In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I explored how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provided a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70′s.
In part 2, I delve into how LEGO shifted their products from their initial relatively, gender neutral building experience to a more male dominated and male identified one. The LEGO group intentionally did this in three ways: 1. Marketing exclusively to boys, 2. Producing male identified and centered themes and sets and 3. Focusing on stereotypical boys play scenarios with an emphasis on combat. The strong focus on boys has effectively kicked girls out of the LEGO club house. Keep watching until the end where I provide a few suggestions to LEGO on how to fix their gender segregation problem.
More information, links and a full transcript available at http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/02/lego-gender-part-2-the-boys-club/
I agree with this (but I actually do like the minidolls).
By all accounts Lego Friends (for girls) should be awful patronising pink and purple sets with puppies, kittens, flowers and modern casual dressed minifigs.
On the other hand, I was won over by the Olivia’s Inventor Workshop set that features chemistry, maths and robotics.
Ok, so the rest is pretty much what you expect but still.
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parent and blogger reported that the LEGO Club magazines that had previously been delivered to her and her daughter had been replaced by a very different kind of magazine.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!
I’m so torn. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Lego and I actually like what society has deemed typically feminine things, like fashion and pet care and such.
This isn’t the first time Lego has had a ‘female specific’ toy line. Anybody remember Belville?
I think this new line is cute… it reminds me of Polly Pocket. Old-school Polly Pocket, not the current iteration. But the message this sends is infuriating and it breaks my heart that stuff like that continues to happen. Like, why can’t “Lego Friends” be included in the already-existent magazine?
Why do girls continue to get treated like they’re something ‘OTHER’ than? Like girls and women are some subspecies or separate group. Females are PEOPLE. Males are people. Non-binary folk are people. Gender is mostly a social construct. It’s a personal exhibition of truth derived from our environment, what we feel about it, and how we feel about ourselves. The fact that in 2012 the ludicrous binary continues to be exploited to the detriment of people outside of perceived gender norms KILLS me.
So, I like the character designs. I like the idea of ‘cute and girly’ Lego sets just for the added diversity and the option it gives some child who may be interested in that (like the kind of kid I was). I do NOT like that girls are seen as ‘less than’ and ‘others’ and that Lego presumptuously just sends the less involved version of the magazine to girls if they identify themselves as such… and that that magazine doesn’t have the same kind of content as the ‘regular/boy’s’ version does.