The Blog

Girly Lego? No Thanks!

Like many of us I was unaware that Lego was a boys only toy until Lego told me it was. Foolish child of the 80s I was blissfully ignorant and playing with a toy not designed for me. Lego apparently has always been boys only and exclusive. Because there's no unicorns and only a couple of the bald square humanoid figures have boobs there is obviously no appeal for little girls.

Like many of us I was unaware that Lego was a boys only toy until Lego told me it was. Foolish child of the 80s I was blissfully ignorant and playing with a toy not designed for me. Lego apparently has always been boys only and exclusive. Because there's no unicorns and only a couple of the bald square humanoid figures have boobs there is obviously no appeal for little girls.

Lego has decided to bring out a lady friendly 'simplified' version of Lego just for girls! Oh joy....

OK so Lego could definitely do to have a more equal number of identifiable female characters, it should be 50/50 (like in, you know, the actual world), but must we make them 'American real life girlz!' with changeable hair-dos? This pinkifying of things is not a way to addresses the gender disparity of toys, it is merely the exploitation of pre existing stereotypes to make money.

A lot of research has gone into whether men and women have 'different brains', ones more engaged in social stuff etc. but this is far too limiting. Personalities can't be distilled into all or nothing brackets like that. From working in education I've seen that little boys have best friends and little girls have an interest in science.

It seems we constantly take scientific research and distort and filter it into marketing friendly codswallop designed to put us into cost effective categories and advertised to.

Creating a 'girls line' also re-establishes the rickety old notion that boys are 'normal' and girls are 'other', 'deviant' and usually passive. I'm not against pink as a general colour but I'd like kids to have access to all the colours in spectrum when they enter a toy shop.

Many have argued that boys just like aggressive toys, they like to climb and explore while girls like pretty, social toys. I say mince! It's the natural order, you can't fight nature, they say. Usually they say this to get one over on a terribly new age middle class parent who has named their child 'Possibility' and avoided any genderfication in the home to allow their prodigal offspring to blossom unfettered by consumerism's cruel sexist grasp only to find that their darling little boy goes straight for the tanks and their darling little girl goes straight for a pram, which we can read all about in the next Daily Mail, probably.

People often underestimate how much kids absorb through osmosis too. So a child is being raised without 'gender barriers'. Oh really? How are you enforcing that? No TV, radio, media, ever? They don't interact with other humans? Only perfect androgynous ones? We are surrounded constantly with gender stereotypes, most of the time without even realising it. The whole thing is entrenched within our culture. It's not all evil, it just is. People react differently when a females name is at the top of something or a male face tells us news. It's part of our complicated history and relationship with understanding the world around us and we do urgently need to work on that. But it's not the toys which define gender reactions, it's the way we introduce the toys. Children are always going to seek approval of their choices and want to identify with something, particularly a social grouping, dynamic or personality type which is seen as 'good' or 'normal'.

Children do go through many phases such as dinosaurs, Romans, Vikings, nature, space etc. I accept many little girls often go through phases of wearing fairy costumes. Fairies are cool. They can fly; they're shiny, bright and magical. Doesn't mean they don't also want to climb trees (though flying up there would be better). I liked to dress up as a kid. I was variously a fortune teller, a fairy, a suffragette, a 1920s jazz singer, a flamenco dancer, Robin Hood, a wizard... I also played with cars, Lego and books. The first time I was handed a baby doll was before my sister was born so I could learn how to hold a baby. None of this has to be girls only or boys only.

Dividing children into girls and boys for Lego is pointless. Lego builds motor skills, spatial awareness and imagination - all children benefit from that. The only meaningful division of kids who play with Lego is the ones who like to build stuff and the ones who like to smash stuff - market to these two groups and your millions are made.

Ideally in the future we'll stop thinking about which gender a toy is for and just engage with our children as smaller humans learning and playing in a big world.