What’s that? You haven’t had a rant from me for a while and you really want to hear one? OK.
I’m afraid it’s Lego again – yes I know I’ve done them before – but this trailer for the new Lego movie has left me gob-smacked about the message it sends to girls and boys. Where are all the action girls?
I have documented the gradual change in Lego as my three boys and one girl grew up, and watched how Lego sets aimed at my daughter transmorphed from construction sets to beauty and relationship play-sets. A bit like Playmobil but blockier. All of Lego’s investment seemed to be in developing richer and more exciting and complex stuff for boys, while the new girls’ stuff was a patronising Lego-lite version which was promoted heavily in toy shops throughout the land.
Nothing wrong with a bit of beauty and relationship play I hasten to add, but it’s not Lego. And whilst they would say that they were reacting to consumer choice, I know that Lego stopped giving girls a choice. And that toy companies do not reflect the culture so much as create it. Their products are aimed at children who are unaware that they are being influenced into specific ideas of what girls are and what boys are, which gives toy companies a huge responsibility in shaping young minds.
Judging from this new Lego trailer, to the background song ‘Everything is Awesome’, boys do action and adventure and girls… well girls do this:
They say to the boy breathily and seductively ‘Come with me’
They tell the boy he is ‘The most important man in the Universe’
They tell the boy ‘I believe in you’
They allow themselves to be patronised by an old man saying ‘I can handle this’ when they have an idea
Lego sends the message that boys are the movers and shakers in life and girls support them adoringly.
I haven’t seen the movie, it’s not out yet, and maybe the whole thing is not as bad as it looks. After all they have managed to come up with one female super-hero amongst six males. But in choosing the scenes for the trailer it’s obvious who this movie is directed towards, and it’s not the girls.
Toys these days increasingly reflect extreme gender stereotypes and this represents a dilemma for parents who would like their girls and boys to feel free to play with anything they like. As they grow up they will be influenced by what their friends like and it becomes very important to be like all the other girls (or boys). That’s all fine and natural, but it may mean that your little girl is pressuring you for only ‘girl’ toys for birthdays and Christmas, so what do you do?
Here’s a bit of advice. Buy her what she wants. But make sure that in your family you have an eccentric (and childless) relative who doesn’t know the first thing about children and can be guaranteed to buy them inappropriate presents. If you haven’t got one, hire a willing friend to take the role. And when your daughter’s face falls as she opens up her present and finds that age-inappropriate complicated chemistry set that she would never have asked for herself, watch happily as it becomes her most treasured possession.