Tag Archives: Toys for the imagination

Little girls are sick of the girl hate, too. Gimme my pink legos!

3 Apr

Trigger warning:  IMAGE OF ANDREA DWORKIN FOLLOWS

Hey, guess what?  In the interests of supporting ALL the little wannabe engineers and architects and builders and makers around the world, Lego has designed some blocks JUST FOR GIRLS.  I mean, boys can play with them, of course, but Lego has decided that little girls and their interests are just as valuable and interesting and worthy as little boy’s interests.

pink legos

I know.  Outrageous!  What, little girls are just as deserving of being acknowledged as little boys?  And not just acknowledged, but actually applauded?

Oh, come on now.  It’s not that controversial. There have been oodles of campaigns designed to promote the interests of girls, specifically.  Here are just five.  You can find more. Lots more. It’s pretty easy.  It’s not like the campaigns to support and empower girls are hidden behind the ones to support boys.  Those don’t exist.

girls

girls 5

girls 4

girls 3

girls 2

So what’s the problem with Legos for girls?  Let’s take a look shall we?  Here is Jake Simons, writing for the Telegraph.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jakewallissimons/100210036/pink-lego-is-an-abomination-end-this-gender-fascism/

Pink Lego is an abomination. End this gender fascism

By Jake Wallis Simons

lego

Take a look at the picture above. This is a Lego advertisement from the early Eighties, which has recently been circulating online. Beautiful, isn’t it? A cheeky-looking child wearing scruffy child’s clothes, proudly clutching a Lego creation which would resist any attempt at interpretation by an adult. The fact that the child happens to be a girl is neither here nor there.

She’s not wearing a “child’s” clothes.  She’s wearing a “boy’s” clothes.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.  Maybe she has a couple of older brothers and hand me down boy clothes are just the way it goes in her life.  That’s fine.

In case it’s too small to be legible, the first paragraph of copy reads as follows: “Have you ever seen anything like it? not just what she’s made, but how proud it’s made her. It’s a look you’ll see whenever children build something all by themselves. No matter what they’ve created.”

No matter what they’ve created.  Let’s keep that in mind.  And watch how much it DOES matter what they create.

Contrast this with Lego Friends, the new range of Lego aimed specifically at girls, which celebrates its first birthday this year. It features the heavy usage of the colour pink; figures which have been moulded to look more like real women than the traditional, blocky Lego people; a large collection of cars, home interiors and pets; and almost zero opportunity for the imagination to play a role. Every model is so over-styled and prescriptive that it is nigh on impossible to be creative. The words “crying” and “shame” spring to mind.

Right.  As opposed to Hagrid’s Hut.  Note that most of his hut is a kitchen!

hagrid

Or this airport.

airport

Or Indiana Jones’ lair.

indy

Or Jack Sparrow’s ship.

sparrow

Or the Millennium Falcon.

falcon

When Legos are styled for boys, or geeky girls, that’s okay.  But when they’re styled for girls specifically, that reduces the role of imagination to zero.  I guess boys can imagine themselves Han Solo pretty easily, but when girls imagine themselves as a specific character, they’re just brain-dead simpletons?

Hey, thanks for the love, Jake.

To bring the contrast into sharper relief, it may be necessary – apologies in advance – to watch the Lego Friends advertisement below. This will likely be the most excruciating 45 seconds of television you will endure this year. (“I just finished decorating my house! Time to chill with the girls at the beauty shop! Emma is styled and ready to go!” “Cupcakes are ready!”) But I implore you: grit your teeth and watch it. Then take another look at the Eighties advertisement at the top of the piece. Where did it all go wrong?

 

It went wrong with your assumption that whatever girls do just automatically sucks ass, unless it’s something boys do, too.

There are two problems with that assumption, Jakey boy.  First of all, it’s some pretty specific characteristics you’re railing against.  Very specifically feminine ones.  Taking care of a home? Caring about your appearance? Home cooking? Why, it’s almost as if the girls feel like itty bitty wives and mothers.  For shame!  Let’s beat those instincts out of them.  Or at least heap SHAME upon the little slatterns.  Caring for others and cooking and looking nice!  What would Andrea Dworkin say?

dworkin

Only when manhood is dead – and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it – only then will we know what it is to be free.

Andrea Dworkin

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/andrea_dworkin.html#v1geR3qGitb7uI2V.99

Secondly, you apparently haven’t played with a lot of Legos recently.  Indiana Jones has a frying pan and a coffee cup!  No really!  It’s true!  And bananas.  He cooks!  He eats!  He makes coffee!  He can even make coffee for a pink Lego girl!

frying pan

He might also bash you over the head with the frying pan, or Marianne will, or you might just have a nice chat and some fried apples.

marianne

All depends on your ……  imagination?

You probably think you’re gonna score some pussy coming out against those horrid pink girl legos, and who knows?  You might.  But in order to do so, you are denying yourself (and by extension, all other men) the acknowledgement of your own nurturing instincts and you are simultaneously shitting on the very women you hope to score for those exact same instincts!

Not sure how well that’s gonna work in the long run.  Boys cook. And drink coffee.  And take care of their appearance. Girls do, too.  That’s not gender fascism.  It’s life.  Kind of lovely, really.

coffee

Viewed as an isolated occurrence, this may not seem so bad. To people who do not have small children – and who do not have cause to spend time in toy shops, children’s clothes shops, and exposed to children’s television advertising – it might even appear trivial. But it is part of a powerful, cynical and hugely damaging trend that is exerting a profound influence on British childhood.

You got that right.  The main influence it’s exerting is that a girl’s natural instincts to care for others and for her home and to care about what she looks like are shameful and ugly and wrong and in need of correction.

Riddle me this, though, Jake.  If you’re going to holler for girls to ignore their desires to cook and care and nest and bring beauty to life, who exactly do you think is going to do those things?  If you succeed in teaching girls that their very natural instincts and desires are actually despicable chains the patriarchy has slung for the sole purposes of enslaving them, where do you think the next generation of children is going to come from?

Any parent will confirm that the vast majority of children’s products fall into two categories. There are those intended for boys, which tend towards masculine ideals but include a range of colours, themes and ideas. And there are those meant for girls, which are almost inevitably pink, sparkly, and related to princesses, mummies and daddies, beauty parlours or cuddly animals. As we have seen, this stark division was not part of the experience of childhood in previous decades. Both in terms of gender stereotyping and the belief in the imagination, we seem to have catastrophically regressed.

You’re a journalist?  Seriously?  It took me ten seconds to Google “top ten children’s toys” at Amazon.com.  Here’s the list:

LEGO Star Wars 9493: X-Wing Starfighter

Inflatable World Globe

15 X Mixed Colour Jet Bouncy Balls

Wooden Bead Bracelets Set of 5 for Children

The Creativity Hub Rory’s Story Cubes

Tomy Octopals Bath Toy

Scrabble Original Board Game

Syma 2nd Edition S107 S107G New Version Indoor Helicopter (Red)

Insect Lore Butterfly Garden

Bananagrams Game

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bestsellers-Toys-Games/zgbs/kids

You might be able to spin the X-Wing and the helicopter as boy toys and the bracelets as girl toys, but 7/10 are toys for both boys and girls.  I know that math can be tricky, Jake, but 7/10 is 70%.  That leaves 30% of the toys gendered.  Not quite the sweeping majority you claim.

Okay, maybe bouncy balls don’t require the full deployment of a child’s imagination (damn, they sure are fun though – JUST NOT IN THE HOUSE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD), but an inflatable globe?  Scrabble? Bananagrams? A butterfly garden? I’m not seeing this crisis in imagination you report.

butterfly

That’s not to say, of course, that there is anything wrong with princesses, mummies and daddies, and cuddly animals. There is nothing fundamentally objectionable about different genders having different roles, if this is what they choose. I wouldn’t complain if girls’ toys and clothing were generally more feminine, in the same way that boys’ stuff is generally more boyish. It is the oppressive uniformity of girls’ products that I resent, which – unless it is consciously and actively resisted by parents – swiftly brainwashes girls into the belief that if it’s not pink and sparkly, it’s taboo.

Oh bullshit. Monster High?

monster

Play-doh?

playdoh

Wreck it ralph?

wreck

Fijit?

fijit

There are plenty of toys for girls that aren’t sparkly and pink, but you know what, that’s beside the point.  If you’re finding oppressive uniformity, perhaps that’s because you’re only looking to confirm the bias you already hold against girls.  Open your mind, Jake.

In many shops, it is actually impossible to buy anything for a girl that is not pink. To wit: Lego Friends. Why on earth does Lego have to be gendered? For decades, the bricks alone were enough to fuel hours of imaginative play. In 2013, however, girls can either decorate their home, bake cupcakes, or get their hair done. That’s it. All this, added to sexualised clothing and make-up for young girls, amounts to nothing short of gender fascism. And it stinks.

Again, you’re a journalist?  Are you fucking kidding me?

Friends can build a treehouse.

treehouse

They can go quad biking.

quad

They can form a rockband.

rock

They can go jetskiing.

jetski

They can build robots in a science lab.

robots

Friends can do anything.  You know.  With a little …. Imagination?

Speaking of things that stink, so ubiquitous is this phenomenon that various campaign groups have sprung up, including Pink Stinks, founded in 2008 by two sisters in London, which believes that “all children – girls and boys – are affected by the ‘pinkification’ of girlhood”. The group has attracted worldwide support and has notched up many key victories, including the removal of an appalling pink globe, complete with mermaids, from the shelves of the Early Learning Centre. But their efforts have done little to stem the tide of pinkness which threatens to engulf all but the most independent-minded little girls.

What the fuck is wrong with pink?  Is it because pink is the quintessentially feminine color?  Is that what gets you so up in arms?  That girls might actually LOVE their femininity?  That they might actually LOVE themselves?

Buying shoes is a particular peeve. Try and buy a good pair of sturdy shoes for girls which can withstand heavy duty outdoor play. You’ll find it almost impossible. Clearly, somebody somewhere has decided that girls should be wearing shoes that will train them to be better ladies, not let them run about and get the most out of their years of childhood. As a society, we are doing little to challenge the idea that young girls must be fantasy-feminised, in preparation for the sexting and porn culture that awaits them when puberty approaches, or even before.

These are Pinky’s shoes that she wears every day at school.

boots

She is definitely my girl.  Sparkly combat boots!  It’s total and utter horsehit that you can’t find sturdy girl shoes.  I have two girls.  I have bought a shit ton of shoes.  I have never, ever had a problem finding sturdy shoes for my girls.

The principle argument that Lego, and companies like them, mount in favour of the pinkification of girls’ toys is that this stuff sells. When the Lego Friends range was introduced, sales jumped by 24 per cent in six months. In a market economy such as our own, surely this is a simple case of supply and demand? Isn’t Lego simply answering Freud’s question, “What does a woman want?” Doesn’t the profit prove it?

Little girls are getting sick of your grown-up “gender is socialized and if you don’t act like a boy you suck” bullshit?  No kidding!  You might want to consider just how retarded your argument IS when a five year old can see through it.

skeptical

No it jolly well does not. There is far more to this than meets the eye. The fact is that there is nothing inherently girlish about pink; this association has only been made over the last hundred years or so, and at no time so rigidly as today. Indeed, one American trade publication, issued in 1918, suggested that “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl”. At other times, pink was chosen for children with brown hair – from whatever gender – and blue for those with blonde.

Hey, look who finally figured out how to use Google!

It doesn’t matter WHAT color is associated with WHICH gender.  What matters is that gender is NOT a social construct and the feminist effort to make BOTH boys and girls feel rotten about their natural, deeply biological instincts is hurting both boys and girls. And for what?  So you can deny difference?  Pretend away what even a child can see? Why? What is the point?

We’ll get to that.

The overwhelming modern-day preference among girls for the colour pink speaks volumes about the manipulation of the consumer by the manufacturers to create a dependent, niche market, which can be exploited for commercial gain. The persistent reduction of girls’ ranges to a single colour, and a single vision of ultra-femininity, has created a whirlpool peer pressure and an overpoweringly magnetic suggestion of an ideal, which conspire to make girls believe that only pink is pretty. There is no facility made for a girl to use her imagination, or even to begin to think differently. Like it or not, the manufacturers are intentionally creating an addiction.

Except that all the evidence suggests just the opposite.  There are plenty of toys for girls that aren’t pink. A whole rainbow of colors.  And plenty of those toys aren’t ultra-feminine, but even if they were, SO WHAT? It’s the feminine part you hate, isn’t it, Jake?

Here’s my theory:  if Jake were to embrace the feminine as a biological imperative that most women possess in varying degrees, he would then have to consider the masculine, also a biological imperative that all men possess in varying degrees.

And he might come up short.

jake

Better to just hate BOTH ideas simultaneously.  That requires little introspection, zero trips to the gym to put on a little muscle mass, and you get to blame someone, too!

Little girls!

What a perfect target.

I actually don’t find Jake unappealing, but his strong aversion to the ultra-feminine suggests that his internal image of the masculine might be similarly “ultra”.  He’s a little off that ideal.

Nobody is more impressionable than a child. If parents are not vigilant, daughters are easily lost to an ad-man’s dreams. Again, I speak not as someone who necessarily objects to traditional conceptions of femininity, but someone who resents the way in which a narrow vision of the world is ceaselessly foisted upon my daughters in order to turn them into obedient little consumers. And I say this not from an anti-capitalist perspective, but from one that is in accordance with decent, some may say conservative, social values.

You know who’s more impressionable than a child?  A grown-up with a deep fear of not measuring up.  But that fear is YOUR fear.  Your daughter’s complete embrace of femininity may threaten your own sense that you are not quite so completely masculine, or perhaps not as masculine as you would like to be, or imagine yourself to be.

You have a few choices, though, Jake. Hit the gym, for one.  Put on some muscle.  Increase your testosterone. You will literally be more masculine.

gym

http://boldanddetermined.com/

Or stop worrying about it.  Little girls being feminine are no threat to you.  Despite very deeply ingrained, biologically based gendered characteristics, we exist on a continuum, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s okay to be beta.  If you’re happy, then just be happy.  And let others be happy, too.

A few weeks ago, I had the misfortune to visit a “soft play centre”. The establishment had a set of five or six “party rooms”, in which a rotation of birthday parties were taking place, each identical to the others. In one room, I saw a collection of about twenty little girls sitting at long tables eating crisps and jelly, vacant expressions on their faces. Every single one of them was dressed in an off-the-peg Disney princess dress, in various shades of pink. As I wrote at the time, it was like witnessing a battery farm for the cretins of the future.

A battery farm for the  cretins of the future.  And you are the father of daughters.  Your hatred of women is showing.  It’s not that surprising, really.  You probably consider yourself a feminist.  Consider also that in hating women, in hating the feminine, you are inadvertently hating yourself.

One does not exist without the other.  The entire point of feminism is to get women to hate themselves AND men. To hate the feminine AND the masculine.  To create a world of robotic, mindless, soulless, genderless drones.

It’s not new, is it?  Most radical social movements have had the same goals. Marxism. Socialism. Communism. Maoism.

stalin

The world is littered with the bones of millions who paid the price for a small group of elite to rule.

It is the responsibility of every decent-minded parent – indeed, every decent-minded person – to stand four-square against this pernicious, commercially motivated cultural trend. Pink is not pretty. It stinks.

Hating pink is hating girls.  Hating pink is hating the instinct to care.  Hating pink is hating a love for beauty.  Hating pink is hating the desire to nurture.  Hating pink is hating the longing for a safe home.  Hating pink is hating life.

cupcake

And that really stinks.

Lots of love,

JB

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