January 14, 2012 § 2 Comments
Part Seven of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.” If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.
Okay, okay, okay. When I recommended buying Pink Legos, I was imagining the same sorts of construction sets found in primary colors, only in pastels. Should have done a little more research. No, these aren’t the same architechtural and vehicle structures as the ones being offered in primary colors – they’re simpler! For girls! Yay! Whew – thank goodness I don’t have to worry my pretty little head about building hard stuff like the BOYS do!
Here’s what I did to examine the issue a little further.
I read this analysis of the new Lego LadyFigs. Lotsa great points and spot-on exploration of troubling gender issues.
I watched this Spark Video Petition asking Lego to re-examine its marketing strategies. I will sign it. I really support this effort.
I watched this thoroughly offensive treatment of Star Jones on the Today Show. Consequently, I was reminded why I hate the Today show and never watch it.
And this. The Lego Friends commercial. Barf.
HOWEVER – I hate almost EVERY commercial aimed at kids. I hate the food commercials aimed at kids. I hate the toy commercials aimed at kids – girls AND boys. Make no mistake – the marketing to boys is every bit as shallow and stubbornly adherent to gender stereotypes as the marketing to girls. I hate most magazines aimed at kids, and most TV shows aimed at kids. They are, so many of them, filled with obnoxious behaviors, colors, sounds, images and insulting messages. And, please don’t get me started on how adults are depicted on these shows. There is a reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under the age of two years old not watch TV.
I get the huge disappointment loyal Lego customers feel – it has for so many decades been considered a brilliant gender-neutral toy, and this new line extremely condescending and misguided. I can just feel parents deflate when they see these commercials. It’s like having your your hero selling out. (Imagine Keith Hernandez going from being a baseball great all fans can love to doing gross, sexist, and poorly-acted commercials for men’s hair dye. Thank GOD he would never stoop to that level. Oh. Wait…)
Don’t get me wrong. I can get whipped up into a righteous fury over mistreatment of girls and women as much as the next guy. I can, and I do. Yet, I can’t help what bothers me most in this whole scene being played out with Legos’ new line. Go back to the Today Show clip. Watch the end of the Lego segment. Watch from 6:45 – 7:00. Listen to what gets used as the hilarious segue into the next segment. Nancy Snyderman, M.D., saying, “The BRAVE parents will buy this line for their BOYS!” HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Donny Deutsch saying, “No, they WON’T!” Snort! Matt Lauer saying, “THAT’s probably not going to happen.” Chortle!
Truly, I began to conceive of this post being willing to have my mind changed – to say “I WAS WRONG!!! Don’t buy Pink Legos!!! Don’t support the sexist and insulting messages that go along with the new pink Lego line!!! Don’t do it!!!” My stomach clenches at this blatant, insidiously insulting line of products, and I am intensely grateful to all who are fighting the sexism so powerfully.
But, you know what? There’s also this. The much publicized story of a big brother sticking up for his younger brother who wanted a purple game controller. Standing up for him to their DAD. That such things go on boggles my mind. Add to it those toss-off remarks by people with such reach and influence as Snyderman, Deutsch, and Lauer? Sorry, my post-modern feminist friends. I find myself wanting to stick up more than ever for the little boys who want things that are traditionally though of as “girly.”
So, again, I ask you – in the name of these boys – if your son wants these, buy them for him. Please. Seems to me I made that very argument a couple of weeks before Nancy Snyderman tossed the notion off as a joke.
December 25, 2011 § 3 Comments
Part Six of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.” If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.
Mention the phrase, “pink legos” and stand back. (Did I mention you should have popcorn handy?)
I’ve already blogged about my defense of pink. Readers (in the double digits! Go, me!) have read about it. It doesn’t seem to be taking hold across the nation, yet, though.
Girl On Saturday,(aka, “Penis Mom”) – my new hero, by the way – tweeted that she may have her angry feminist card revoked for buying pink legos for her girl. Miss Representation’s twitter feed is has quite a few angry tweets about this (new?) campaign of marketing pink Legos to girls. They have a hashtag devoted to calling out marketers and manufacturers who demean girls and women, called #NotBuyingIt. As in, if they send sexist messages, you shouldn’t buy the product. I’m right there with them. Go Daddy can suck an egg. But such anger towards pink? Please allow me to offer an alternative.
Buy them. Buy the pink legos. But buy them for boys.
Hear me out. Please, I am begging you…hear me out.
When I was in elementary school, my dad had a rehearsal with his students at our apartment over Christmas break. The show was “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and these were high school kids. He was telling me about how great these kids were, and how I was going to swoon and fall in love – IN ABSOLUTE LOVE – with the kid who played Pontius Pilate. “I’m telling you, Aliza, you are going to want to MARRY this guy,” or something like that.
When he rang the doorbell, my dad let me answer the door. When I did, I was not prepared for what I saw. He was not a kid. He was at least 8 feet tall (to me, anyway.) He had a full moustache and beard (it was the 70s.) And he was black. Dark black. Standing in front of me was the blackest black black blackity black man I’d ever seen in my short life. Handsome, true…but that was not what I took away from that experience.
Intentional or not, my dad sent me the message that it was okay for white people to fall in love with black people. Not just okay…it was fine. Not just fine. It was fine with HIM. And while at that age, I wasn’t considering the complexity of race relations, it did make me wonder why I had assumed the kid would be white. Mostly, I walked away from that shrugging, and thinking “Gee – I guess I can marry a black guy if I wanna – that’s kinda cool…” The revelation was transformative, shaping my thinking and outlook to this day.
Wondering what this has to do with pink legos?
Consider the message would you be sending if you bought pink legos for boys.
- To the manufacturer, you’d be letting them know their marketing is off base and outdated. That EVERYTHING can be manufactured in bold colors or pastels, and that either gender should be encouraged and shown to be buying whatever color appeals to them.
- To little boys, you’d be sending them the message that girls shouldn’t have the market cornered on pink. It is simply a color in the spectrum, just like blue is. (Boys don’t have the market cornered on blue, anymore, do they?) It is not just okay for them to like and use pink – it is FINE. Just like my dad sent my young brain the message that there is nothing (or should be nothing) out of the ordinary for whites to marry blacks.
Imagine the ripple effect of this over time. Perhaps girls would be further empowered if we weakened the stranglehold pink has on both genders. Maybe a boy who liked pink wouldn’t be afraid to wear it. Maybe his friends would be less likely to make fun of him. Maybe being accused of doing something “like a girl” would no longer be considered an insult. Maybe pink and other pastels would regain their rightful places in the color spectrum.
So go ahead and buy the pink legos if your girl likes them. Buy them for your boys if it has never occurred to them. The younger the boy, the better. You will be planting the seed early. Pink does not equal girl. Girl does not equal inferior.
I admit, though another motivation for pushing this trend. I get the subversive psychic giggles at the thought of the photos being uploaded to the Lego website. Photos of dads buying pink legos for their sons. And pictures of the boys playing with them. Do it. It’ll drive the ad execs crazy.