Childrearing

LEGO Has Messed With The Wrong Mothers, Anti-Sexism Campaign Gaining Traction

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LEGO for girlsIt was universally acknowledged to be an odd move when LEGO decided to announce “girl-friendly” LEGOS that were pink, wore short skirts, and frequented nail salons. Our own Shawna Cohen playfully said that LEGO for girls already exists — and it’s called LEGO, a saying that is finding its way all over the interwebs. And although relegating girls to the corners of pink and busty seems to be a frequent move by toy makers, parents aren’t really swallowing this one all too well judging by the number of people protesting the product.

A Change.org petition shows almost 50,000 signatures asking that LEGO return to offering the toy collection to both boys and girls with non-gendered advertising. Parents have flooded the comments, many mothers attributing their engineering careers or their bright daughters to LEGOs and the company’ original message encouraging kids to build beyond gender norms.

One woman named Susan James commented:

Because I am girl who played with Legos and I became an engineer. When I was growing up, they weren’t boy or girl toys. They just were toys for everyone. Maybe if you showed more girls playing with your toys you wouldn’t have to resort to the lame girl sets.

Another mother named Mari Bonomi wrote:

My now-33 year old daughter adored her Legos. She and her friend Dan (yes, a boy) would play for hours day after day building structures and then creating adventures for their little Lego figures in those structures.

She didn’t need pink and purple Legos, nor did she need Barbie-fied environments of beaches, stores, and beauty shops. She wanted castles, dungeons, space centers, and whatever she and Dan could imagine.

She’s now all woman, smart, sexy, and stunning, earning a great living and in a great romantic relationship. She accomplished all this without ever having been relegated into a pink and purple “girls toys” ghetto.

Stefa Normantas, another concerned mother, succinctly noted the following when considering the influence of the new LEGOs on her kid:

I’d like my daughter to have a bolder vision than working on her tan.

LEGO released a statement last week addressing the concerns of parents, shaking their finger at moms and dads for “misinterpreting” their LEGO friends collection as being only for girls. The company reminds all of us that plastic-breasted LEGO ladies applying lipstick to one another is just “another theme option”:

We want to correct any misinterpretation that LEGO Friends is our only offering for girls. This is by no means the case. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of LEGO products already available. LEGO Friends joins this global collection of products as yet another theme option from which parents may choose the best building experience for their child’s skill and interest. [tagbox tag=”sexism”]

The company maintains that they are “listen[ing]” to these opinions very carefully, but no word yet on how many signatures it’s going to take for LEGO to take note of how their biggest customers and advocates don’t want what’s on the shelves. Similar to the “Beautiful and Bald!” Barbie campaign, toy makers would do well to listen to the party with the wallet. It may not be kids who are tagging their names to these petitions and Facebook pages, rallying over their preferences and collecting signatures, but as the ones who ultimately have to make these toy purchases, parents have always been the ones holding all the cards.

And whether you’re for or against bald Barbie or a unisex LEGO collection, it’s reassuring to see mothers and fathers across the web remembering that they do have a say in what their children play with and not just resigning themselves and their kids to popular interests. Given the way parents are organizing these days over product suggestions and campaigns, the stereotype of the tired mother, vacuously tossing items in their carts and sighing may be just that — a stereotype.

(photo: wikia.com)

19 Comments

  1. Heidi Viti

    January 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    We are BIG Lego fans in our house. My 9 year old son spends hours building sets, taking them apart and rebuilding his own ideas. I look forward to the new Holiday Set each year (Post Office this year – love it) and other sets as well. It is my “stress relief” after a busy work week. And now my 10 year old daughter is super excited about the Lego Friends Sets. We think they are great!! And amazing!!

  2. Patrce

    January 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Here’s a thought – if you don’t want your daughter playing with “girly” LEGOS,don’t buy them. Why get your britches in a bunch over something so trivial? Why so much angst over a toy?

  3. Tina

    January 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t have a problem with “girl-friendly” legos. I have a problem with it being harder to find gender neutral lego sets. Don’t you see the marketing strategy here? Now you may have to by a “boy” set and a “girl” set if you have children of the opposite sex.

  4. Melanie Scott

    January 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I don’t love this new line as it clearly reinforces gender stereotype. I’d like to see my daughter playing with gender-neutral lego and not feel she has to choose girly lego. That being said, I know my daughter and I know the influence peers and the princess-culture have on girls as they get older. She’ll likely choose the girly lego. In that case, I support her because I think the skills-mathematical, spatial, and other she can gain from playing with lego (no matter how it’s marketed) could lead her to programs and careers now dominated by men-which in my opinion is a larger gender equality issue. That’s why I won’t sign the petition against lego.

  5. Steph

    January 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I think this article has tipped Mommyish into ridiculous mommy blog caricature territory. Seriously? This is what you’re choosing to waste your emotions on? Seriously?

    Sure parents have a right to choose what their children play with – BY NOT BUYING IT FOR THEM!

  6. Senor Spamdump

    January 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Support Women’s Right to Choose what color her Daughters Lego’s are!

    http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-pink-legos-pro-choice-on-lego-colors

  7. Molly

    January 19, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Pink Legos are welcome in my house! We’ve had the gender neutral ones and my daughters are just not interested. My oldest doesn’t want to build spaceships and cars with her boy friends, but I bet she’ll be happy to build a house or a park with her sisters. Not sure why the Lego girls have to have breasts though….

  8. Stephanie

    January 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This is ridiculous, if you don’t like a product – don’t buy it, simple. The two comments you showed were from people who wouldn’t even purchase the product, and they’re signing a petition against it? That’s just plain stupid. Some girls would love this product, I know I would have. I had regular legos, but rarely played with them, but I would have enjoyed these.

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  10. Stefani

    January 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I think it’s great that Lego is finally making something for girls. My 4 year old daughter had no interest in Star Wars and all if the other boy themes, but she’s very interested in the girl ones. If you don’t like them, buy the old ones. I’m glad that my daughter has a choice.

  11. Bring on the Pink Lego

    January 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    The new girl Lego will be accepted at my house and what awesome presents they’ll maker or my nieces. Currently, there is StarWars, City/Police, Ninja, Pirates & a few more but these are ONLY aimed at BOYS. Bring on the nail salons, malls and shops. I can’t wait to buy the pink Lego… in the mean time my daughter has no problem playing with our other gender neutral toys or my sons matchbox cars. Maybe she could borrow one of his cars to drive to the girly Lego mall?

  12. kt

    January 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Lego has not been gender neutral in years. Years ago when it was all primary colors and you built with your imagination, it was gender neutral. I’d love to see big tubs of plain legos again. In recent years, they have definitely been geared only toward boys. My daughter has been asking for 2 years why Lego doesn’t make any sets that are interesting to her. She doesn’t want to build Star Wars items, or ninjas, or superhereos, or spaceships, or rescue items, or even sponge bob. She also asks why the “people” included with those sets are almost always only boys. Granted some girls like those kind of things (I would have as a kid), but some like my daughter don’t, but they still want legos to play with. We’ve looked far and wide to find plain gender neutral legos or something interesting to her. (What she’d really like are sets where she can build Cinderella’s castle and other Disneyworld structures) She loves the new line and started asking for it the minute she saw it. I don’t see any problem with it. If she started asking for a Star Wars set I wouldn’t have a problem with that either. Some girls naturally like girly things. What is so wrong with lego giving those kids the opportunity to have something they enjoy? I applaud Lego for finally putting out something my daughter wants to play with so that she doesn’t miss out on the Lego building experience altogether.

  13. Lacy

    January 28, 2012 at 7:21 am

    This is the type of stuff that makes me hate the feminist movement. Apparently I’m the worst mother in the world because my daughter would rather play with the new pink and purple legos over the Star Wars or Harry Potter ones. It doesn’t matter that she’s a very well rounded and smart little girl who loves playing soccer, “helping” daddy practice his golf swing and reading but according to this article because she enjoys playing with pink legos over the unisex ones she’s going to grow up more worried about her tan than her brain. Give me a freaking break.

    • mystic_eye_cda

      March 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      You think you’re a bad mom, I let my boys wear pink boots, have long hair, and have the pink marble race and the pink lego because he asked for them. Not to mention dora.

      Apparently by not forcing him to *only* wear things that are blue and *only* play with guns, I’m the sexist. We don’t have boy toys or girl toys in this house. I’ve even gotten rid of books “for boys” because I have enough trouble keeping that attitude away from my kids at the park.

      But the mere existance of pink lego is sexist, yeah, not the people who think pink, and salons, are only for girls.

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  16. Alatariel

    June 27, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I am not against Lego Friends, but to offer an alternative/complementary option I have created a Lego Female Minifigure Set. There is a serious lack of female minifigures and the few that exist are generally stereotype. I think it’s perfectly fine for girls (or boys) to play with pink sets in girly themes, but for the ones that don’t like it this set offers a female scientist, paleontologist, engineer, fire fighter, etc. The project is posted on Lego Cuusoo: http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/15401. If it gets 10,000 votes Lego may decide to produce it, so support is appreciated it you like it!

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