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LEGO Magazine: Girl Stuff and “Regular” Stuff

By Seila Rizvic

If you weren’t convinced before that LEGO’s new pink-ified and short-skirted mini-figures weren’t a form of gendering and sexualization of young girls, then maybe this will convince you.

Recently, a concerned parent and blogger reported that the LEGO Club magazines that had previously been delivered to her and her daughter had been replaced by a very different kind of magazine. LEGO Club Girls is a pastel-coloured, less-interesting version of the original developed around sorely misinformed ideas of what girls like. An online sample from the LEGO website reveals that the original magazine included things like comic strips involving knights and kings, a how-to guide on building LEGO boats and a surfing themed colouring activity. The new LEGO Club Girls magazine, the blogger reports, features comic strips with the new LEGO Friends characters going to a café (yawn) and instead of a surfing themed activity, there’s an activity centred around a lost puppy (double yawn).

Most strikingly of all, there are no building instructions in this version of the magazine. Why not? It certainly wouldn’t have to do with the fact that LEGO thinks girls don’t like building things or aren’t meant to build things; maybe LEGO just couldn’t think of a girly enough thing for girls to build. What would a girl build anyway? Lipstick? A training bra? A tutu? Are there tulle and chiffon LEGO bricks in the works for the next set of girl mini-figures?

If you happened to check “girl” upon signing up for LEGO Club but don’t want to automatically be switched over to a “girlier” LEGO Club magazine, don’t worry! They want you to know that you can opt out and re-subscribe to the “regular” version. Really, LEGO? The message here is loud and clear. There’s girls stuff, like puppies and beauty shops and pink things, and there’s boy stuff, or what LEGO might call “regular” stuff; you know, stuff that forces you to use your imagination and takes you on adventures and has characters with more developed personalities than all the lady LEGO Friends combined!

LEGO Simone de Beauvoir is super unhappy about this development

It has become painfully clear that this company doesn’t have a clue what girls want. Hey LEGO, want to see a real LEGO Girls Club in action? Check out this group of grade-school girls (your demographic!) building robots and using programming to manipulate their LEGO creations! How about promoting science, technology, engineering and math in young girls? How about a Marie Curie or Simone de Beauvoir themed gender-neutral LEGO set? In case you didn’t know, and it’s very clear you don’t, Simone de Beauvoir was a French philosopher who used the concept of “othering”, something you are guilty of, to describe the alienation of and separation of female experiences as secondary to the male consciousness. Come to think of it, there’s a whole slew of feminist writing you ought to brush up on and this would probably be a lot more helpful than the enormous amount of money that went into the “research” you invested in these new minifigures. Heck, why not just go back to the awesomely gender-neutral 1981 campaign?

The LEGO Club website currently has a survey up encouraging “LEGO girls” to “help [them] make the very best LEGO Club Magazine [they] can!” Tell them what you think! Better yet, why not sign the petition to “Tell LEGO to stop selling out girls!” which at last count was already just shy of 35,000 signatures! The future of gender-neutral LEGO for boys and girls may depend on it!

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6 Responses to “LEGO Magazine: Girl Stuff and “Regular” Stuff”

  1. Darlene Marett says:

    As a consumer of Lego products for over 35 years, both as a child and as a parent of both a girl and 4 boys, I am confused, embarrassed and disappointed with the number of signatures – over 35,000, registered and encouraged by the Spark Movement at Change.org. This seems to be an absurb waste of female time.

    As a child, I enjoyed playing with Lego along with my brother. Primarily, I enjoyed making cute houses and really enjoyed choosing the windows and doors for my new home. As a child, I wished there was more types of windows and doors to choose from and other Lego pieces I could use to decorate it. As a girl I dreamed of one day having my own home and a car I could drive and park in the driveway. From my brother’s collection of vehicles, I would choose the car I liked and park it in the driveway of my new Lego home (there were no cars at the toy store for girls in the 1960′s so I had to pick one from my brother’s collection)

    My parents and grandparent’s seemed completely surprised by my interest in ‘boy’ toys and would whisper then hush each other so I wouldn’t overhear their comments. I was surprised by their surprise. After all, my Mother had a car of her own which gave her the power and the freedom of independence which she enjoyed immensely. She also enjoyed her home and decorating it. I looked forward to growing up, driving a car of my own and decorating a home of my own. Lego gave me the opportunity to creatively construct a future life through the pleasure of imaginative play. Without my brother’s Lego I would not have had this opportunity.

    Four years ago, a friend with two girls lamented the lack of girl oriented Lego. We discussed options for girl Lego over coffee at the cafe. Suggestions between us were pink and lavender colours and themes like princesses and castles because these were the types of Lego that girls would be drawn to. Ponies, puppies, girlfriend characters were all on the list.

    Last night I took my young boys to the new Lego store at the Fairview Mall in Toronto, Ontario. I was thrilled to see the new line of girl oriented Lego in the themes and colours that my friend and I discussed a few years ago. I couldn’t wait to tell my friend about it, knowing that she would buy these for her daughters. My friend is a teacher of young children and between raising girls and teaching girls, she has noticed what girls are drawn to.

    This is why I am saddened to see woman wasting their precious time on a movement against Lego and anything ‘girly’. This type of thinking reminds me of the 1960′s and 1970′s when women were fighting for their rights for equal pay and the right to be treated equal to men. It’s as though woman haven’t moved past that, as though they still think that making woman equal to men is the goal. That is soooo last century.

    A thought…. if the current Lego marketed to boys wasn’t being bought by the mothers who would like their girls to be treated equal to boys, why was that? Could it be that the girls weren’t interested? Could it be that the Lego was purchased by a ‘forward thinking’ mother for her daughter, then it sat collecting dust on a shelf when it didn’t appeal?

    As a child of the 60′s a teen of the 70′s and a Mom of 5 children ranging in age from 6 years old to 30 years old, I would like to appeal to a new era in thinking for our boys and girls. There are all kinds of boys and girls in the world of every shade and colour. Some of them like pretty pink things and some prefer red and blue things, some prefer a little of each. Rather than directing how children should think, particularly a condemnation of pink ‘girly’ choices (for either boys or girls), we ought to support children’s individual choices. If a girl likes pink castles and being a princess, that should be okay. If she wants to play with boats, fire engines and cars with City Lego, that should be okay too.

    As Moms, if we really want to empower our girls, let the girls choose.

    Interestingly, two of my boys, 9 years old and 11 years old, were the most excited by the bins with individual Lego they could buy in plastic tubs. What did they choose? White fences and flowers. Why? They said that they didn’t get enough of these kinds of Lego in their Lego sets. How can you build an awesome train without also having some houses with fences and flowers?

    Rather than condemning Lego for creating pink Lego, we should be congratulating Lego for introducing girls or boys to the world of construction and imaginative play. If you would like Lego to offer girls what you think girls ‘should’ be interested in, try placing that side by side with the pink Lego and then allow your girls to choose. You may be surprised to find that many will choose pink, a select few will not.

    Additionally, if you must condemn Lego, then condemn all the toy stores who consistently divide toys into the ‘girl’ aisles and the ‘boy’ aisles. Girl aisles are overwhelmingly pink and the boy aisles are all trucks, cars and construction. I am applauding Lego for resisting the status quo and placing their Lego whether pink or blue equally beside each other in the same aisle where they belong, together.

    And to the Lego corporation… thanks for many hours of imaginative play on behalf of myself and my children, my friends’ children, my brother’s children and everyone’s children and the grown ‘children’ too who still love Lego.

    Sincerely,

    Darlene Marett

  2. Maureen Smith says:

    I have had a difficult time finding non-pink, non-princess yet interesting clothes and toys for my grandaughter. I have had to buy “boys socks” because the girls socks were covered with flowers, unicorns, princesses, Doras, or cupcakes. I have searched stores to find fun, character-less pajamas or underwear. I have had to invent female characters in construction/truck toddler books because there were no women present. (Luckily, I knew they were behind the trucks!) I’m tired of it all. Aren’t we over that blue/pink theing YET???

    I will never buy pink, sexist toys for my granddaughter. And I will not buy the comparable blue toy for my grandson as long as his sister is not respected as an imaginative, creative, intelligent child that can do anything she sets out to do.

    Lego, fire your marketing company. Then fire the fools who commissioned and accepted the results. Then go hire some intelligent, interesting, creative WOMEN!!

  3. Judith says:

    My girls loved the colorful Legos, now they’re kids and grandkids [my greatgrandkids]love them. They liked creating buildings, castles, the little cars. The cars and robots need motors that run off magnets. Don’t want no girlie colors, nor girlie furniture, stores, etc. We want to have activiites like working on the roads, outside construction, etc.

  4. Blythe says:

    I think it is a good idea to give LEGO feedback on how they could reach a broad cross section of girls without alienating any of their fans. But, good lord, way to detract from your point by sounding like a shrieking harpy. Take it down a notch or two. You’re giving feminists a bad name. Btw, I would never sign that petition, not just because of the tone, but also because it reads like it was written by someone who has no real understanding of how kids really play with LEGO.

  5. [...] That’s really the only part I don’t empathize with. The rest of the mission statement is chock full of valid arguments, like why LEGO ads focus on boys, or why LEGO Club magazines expanded with a LEGO Club Girls mag, which plays up to every dainty, frail stereotype you could ever think of. One of the main features of the original publication, building instructions, are visibly absent from the girl’s version! Spark Summit’s Seila Rizvic has the whole story. [...]

  6. Patricia Polowitzer says:

    Ladies,for heaven’s sake,get a life!Seriously, aren’t there more important things to protest than Lego’s new line for girls. Do you really think it “reinforces gender stereotypes”. It has been my observation that most little girls automatically gravitate toward “girlie” things, dolls, dollhouses, dress-up games. I’m 73 years old and I recall that my husband and I were ahead of our time in trying to go against stereotypes. My son had a couple of dolls and my daughter had cars and trucks. My son pretty much ignored the dolls, but liked teddy bears. My daughter actually played with cars and trucks–as long as they were pink or decorated with flowers or looked like circus wagons. My son grew up to be a weight lifter and hockey player, but you might say he defied stereotypes; he became a registered nurse.

    Frankly, I think the new Lego Friends line is great. Nothing says girls can’t or won’t continue to play with regular Legos, but this offers a creative outlet for girls who WANT something that’s special for them. Who knows, some of them might even grow up to be interior designers or landscape architects as a result. My daughter would have loved these sets. Oh, yes, she was pretty much a “girlie” girl, but she did a darned good job of installing new copper plumbing in her house!

    I suggest you concentrate your energies and protests on things that are considerably more disturbing. How about Bratz dolls with their thong undies and trashy outfits, and the trashy clothes that are sold for little girls–and the great role models that are out there for young girls, like the Kardashians.

    Sorry, but I don’t think that, in most cases, nature is gender-neutral.

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