Has anyone been following the LEGO Friends debate? Let me summarize:
- December-Lego announces new line of Lego marketed specifically for girls-LEGO Friends
- A Businessweek article is written about 4 year marketing plan and strategy of LEGO Friends
- Cyber-outrage ensues over the product being gender-biased and reinforcing gender stereotypes
- Cutest ad ever from LEGO 1981 circulates (see below)
- Bailey Shoemaker Richards and Stephanie Cole, have now launched a petition to get LEGO to commit to gender equity in marketing.
- Riley Maida has become 4 year old spokesperson for anti-campaign after saying “”Some girls like superheroes, some girls like princesses, some boys like superheroes, some boys like princesses. So why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff and all the boys have to buy different color stuff?” (I love it! But it wasn’t about LEGO specifically)
Now my opinion…………………………..
Do I hate Lego for making a pastel coloured beauty shop, and curvaceous mini female figs aimed at my daughter? For reinforcing all the dim-witted, princess-cultured stereotypes I’ve been trying to steer her clear of? I will admit, it did make me cringe, but before I jumped on the hate-wagon I did some more websearch (not going to call it research) to get the complete picture.
Firstly, take note that the campaign was also said to be a response to Peggy Orenstein author and advocate for equal-opportunity play who is quoted saying, “The last time I was in a Lego store, there was this little pink ghetto over in one corner. And I thought, really? This is the best you can do?” in the businessweek article. Now we have a LEGO Paradox… Created to include girls for equality in lego land building and play, but at the same time defying equality by gender stereotyping.
Here’s what I think is the most important point, in the business week article, that these Antis are ignoring. “Lego play develops spatial, mathematical, and fine motor skills, and lets kids build almost anything they can imagine, often leading to hours of quiet, independent play.”
Lego develops specific skills, including mathematical skills, building skills, skills that are often encouraged for boys and denied to girls. Skills that lead to University programs and careers dominated by males. Areas that I think need more female representation and academic programs that girls need to know they can be good at. I see these as bigger equality issues.
Yes, ideally I’d like Anjie to play with the LEGO gender-neutral primary-coloured, police stations, firestations and boxy figures. But, what if, as LEGO’s 4 year study on how girls play showed, she gets to a certain age and is not interested in those? I’m not going to debate nature nurture, but I wouldn’t dismiss the market research the company did. I don’t love that my daughter gravitates towards girly items, but she does. The point is, am I really going to deny her the other skills she could gain from playing with LEGO because I don’t like the LEGO Friends floozies? Absolutely not! If it comes down to playing with girly lego or not playing at all. I’m going to let her play with girly lego.
So make petitions and rage against the Mindless My Little Ponies and the Stunned Strawberry Shortcakes and I’ll probably boycott them and sign your petitions. But, I’m absolutely not going to do it for LEGO. No way.