Legos and Gender

Like a lot of people, I am pretty horrified by Lego’s new “Friends” line, which is their attempt to market to girls, because apparently girls only like pink and purple, home decorating and beauty parlors.

What is especially sad about this is that Lego used to market to both boys and girls rather than segregating them into two different Lego universes (someone tell me – why didn’t Lego just add a beauty parlor to its Lego City line, rather than segregating girls into the pink and purple suburbia of the brand new Heartlake City?). Here is how Lego used to market: 

You see? Gender neutral! Just build! Just be creative!

Here is how Lego markets today:


Whatever happened to gender neutral? Whatever happened to creativity and “just build?” Here’s an awesome take on the whole Lego Friends controversy. Apparently, Lego was thinking about having two different – and gendered – Lego Club magazines. I heard that they were rethinking this decision, and I really hope that the rumor is right, because I would hate to end up with this:

And the bummer is, way beyond this whole Lego thing, as the mother of a young daughter I think we’re going backwards. Just try walking through the toy aisles at Wal-Mart. Try looking for gender neutral pajamas. You won’t find any. I mean, I went down the toddler shoe aisles the other day and, viewed from a distance, the girls’ aisle was a cloud of pink while the boys’ aisle was a mixture of red and gray! You really can’t get away from the highly, highly gendered marketing for children that goes on today.

The trouble is what this marketing says to kids. It tells girls that they’re supposed to like pink and purple, supposed to play with dolls and kitchen sets, and that boys are supposed to link dinosaurs and trucks and play with militaristic toys and guns. Think of Barbie and G. I. Joe for crying out loud! And I hate, hate, hate that this is the message my daughter will get whether I like it or not! Now obviously I’ll work to counteract it by telling her that she can be strong as well as nurturing, a leader as well as a builder of compromise, etc, but it doesn’t change that the messages she will get from the pervaisive advertizing we have in our society are so very highly gendered.

But the whole Lego Friends thing happened months ago, you say? Well yes. So let me share what got me thinking on it again – a brilliant pair of youtube videos examining Lego and Lego Friends and Lego’s marketing. They’re really worth the watch:

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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