I’ve spent a lot of time in the toy aisle lately; all of M’s friends seem to have been born in winter, so we’ve been buying birthday presents. So today, we were looking for presents, and we went down the Lego aisle. M saw the Star Wars Legos and made a beeline for them. “Look!” she cried, pointing at the display of figurines. “Where’s Leia?”
I started hunting through the rows of figurines, looking for Leia in her white robe. Eventually I found her in the back, wearing the “slave bikini” costume. Which looks really weird on a Lego, I might add. Inwardly I heaved a sigh. Really? To hell with her bravery, brains or compassion–let’s see the girl in her undies. You can’t get the figurine in any other costume. And all of the men are heavily clothed.
What does this teach girls? That her brains and skills are worthless–she just better look good in that bikini. And what does it teach boys? That a girl’s brains ans skills are worthless–she just better look good in that bikini. Is this really what we want to teach our kids?
I’m even more offended by the Lego Friends series, ie, “Legos for girls.” They are all insufferably pink. The commercial for these things has the girl of the family showing off her makeup table (of course…she doesn’t have any actual hobbies) while Mom bakes cupcakes in the kitchen and Dad mows the lawn. Other offerings for buildings from this series include: a bakery, a pet shop, a beauty salon, and in the sparkly version, a model’s runway. There is one character that has a karate dojo, and that’s the only gender neutral offering I could find. I could also only find it online.
I loved Legos as a kid. I had the old school kind that didn’t “make” anything; they were just there for building whatever you liked. I had red, yellow, blue and white, and I didn’t feel slighted by not having “girl” Legos. Likewise, I wasn’t forced to make “girl stuff.” Sure, I made a pet store, but I also made a fortress, a coliseum and a skyscraper. With these Friends sets, she can only make a cupcake store–and surely she’s not eating those cupcakes herself, because she needs to be on that runway!
It’s not just the Legos. In addition to the line of impossible fashion dolls, there are some other things. Want a bow and arrow for your daughter? Sure! It’s pink and called a “Rebelle.” Want a telescope? Sure! There’s a pink and glittery one! Or how about science kits for girls? Sure–make perfume, soap, or your own makeup! Boys’ toys go to space and storm castles; girls’ go to the mall and look pretty for boys.
M wanted a science kit that let’s you dig up dinosaur bones, but asked hesitantly, “But…is it for boys?” I told her no, that everything in the catalog was for whoever wanted it. M smiled and circled things in the catalog she wanted, but it bothered me. She shouldn’t have to ask. She shouldn’t assume that only things that are pink and glittery are “for” her. I know it’s a battle I’ll have to fight every day.
In the meantime, it would be wonderful to just be able to buy her a box of Legos. You know, Lego flavored Legos, the kind that you can use to build anything, no matter who you are.