Fast off the mark as ever, I finally discovered that Lego was courting controversy by introducing a new girly – aka gender-biased – range. (It’s already introduced the male gender-biased range).
Naturally, I was fascinated with this because of a childhood full of Lego bricks, and my occasional adult feminist perspective.
Childhood construction experience
Back in dynosaurus roughseasandcloudsus days, my vast collection of Lego bricks were red and white. I think the bases were grey, some may have been white. The roof tiles were red. The trees were green. Er – is there more?
Apparently. There are ‘macho’ targeted games in Lego, and now, a cute pinksy, girlsy range.
I shudder. I really do. I spent hours, and hours, happily building my red and white houses. Had it been for real I would be a multi-millionnaire property developer a million times over (more or less).
Blue, yellow, and black bricks did come in during my days, but I didn’t like them. Ever the conservative me. The clear ones were ok. Especially the ones with a light inside.
I had a girder and panel building set. I learned the principles of cantilever construction from this toy (?). The girders were red. The panels were sort of tacky and plastic and bluey and grey and that sort of stuff. But I built lots of high buildings and bridges and walkways and whatever else I could think of.
Well, it seems that’s not enough to keep young minds and nimble fingers active so games and targets need to be involved. And pre-set because who thinks for themselves? Probably a sad but incredibly realistic preparation for real life. But real life isn’t a game, and you don’t put it away in the box when you have finished. Or failed to meet your targets.
Lego, despite being a pretty gender-neutral company originally, decided to change its tack and target boys. Why was that? Do you need to ask? Money? Needing a strategic change of direction?
For which, therefore, it is important to establish gender-specific products for children. *Groan.* Pretty much on the lines of boys need Action Man, and girls need Sindy.
If you aren’t aware of any of this (as I wasn’t) you can catch up with it over here on Philosopher Mouse’s blog. The links at the bottom of the post are well worth a read as they propound both sides of the debate.
Seems to be that what people are either unwilling to accept, or don’t even understand, is that this whole debate is not about encouraging girls to play with Lego bricks. FFS parents, just buy the bricks for your daughters and teach them how to build. Easy. They don’t need to be pink.
And if the Lego sales have been falling, that is because YOU, parents, have not been buying Lego bricks. So stop blaming everyone else that your kids don’t want them because they aren’t the right colour.
This debate is about, how conditioning children at a very early age, affects their life, their aspirations, and their views of who does what in society. And we all just pass these views on. You choose the toys for your children, so bluntly speaking, you are responsible for their very early conditioning.
Being an only child I must have got my fair share of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys. The two building sets as above, a bike of course, a scooter, some dolls, a nurse’s outfit, a cooker on which I could actually cook bacon with a pan and a real flame, and a chemistry set. I never got a train set, maybe my parents never wanted a train set, whereas they probably liked all the others. I also had endless jigsaws.
But overall, the above list is a pretty good mix. I didn’t go on to be an architect, a structural engineer, a nurse, a chef, or a chemist. It’s not the toys that influence attitudes, it’s the subliminal messages that accompany them, and a child’s upbringing. And there are plenty of studies to prove that.
Some time ago, I read a great book looking at how early we start to treat girl and boy children differently. It always stayed with me, and after reading it, I noticed how people carried out the actions highlighted in the book.
Little boys from an early age are told to look out of the window at the big wide world where they will make their mark. Little girls, are hugged and held closely, told to sit in the corner and ‘be a good girl.’ (That’s before I even get into the princess syndrome).
I discussed it with my partner – and he found himself doing the same thing. Ruffling the hair of our neighbours’ young son, treating him as a young ruffy-tuffy small adult male. And the little girls? Not really the done thing is it to ruffle their hair?
This isn’t about bringing up every girl to have aspirations of being an astronaut and telling every boy he should be a school
dinnerlady, I mean dinnerman. Dinnerperson. I wonder how many dinner servers are male??
It’s about trying to say from the word go, that there are no restrictions – or that there should be none – in life, because of your gender/sex. Because it is never too early to start imprinting societal prejudices on young impressionable minds.
Back to Lego
Seems they have introduced an animal vet’s office (what other sort of vet is there I ask my uneducated self?) for the girly version. Ah that would be great wouldn’t it? Is that a stereotype or what? Caring and nurturing female image?? Yawn.
Back to the days of girls are teachers, boys are headmasters (sic), girls are nurses, boys are doctors. Girls are vet nurses, and they end up marrying the rich and handsome vet doctor.
Finally, I noticed when I was reading various sites and comments about this ‘debate’ – polemic was the word that originally came to mind – someone rudely said ‘feminists get over it.’ How rude. And simplistic.
I shall be equally as rude, after all, this is my blog. If you had two lego bricks for brain cells in your head you might realise this is not about pink lego bricks. It is about NOT conditioning young persons at a very early age to behave in accordance with pre-conceived and detrimental gender stereotypes.
PS I forgot to say, the female characters in the pinkified girly Lego have big tits, long legs, hour-glass figures, and four out of five of them have skirts just slightly past their knickers. But hey! Great way to encourage girls to build with bricks yeah?