LEGO Has Messed With The Wrong Mothers, Anti-Sexism Campaign Gaining Traction

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LEGO for girlsIt was universally acknowledged to be an odd move when LEGO decided to announce “girl-friendly” LEGOS that were pink, wore short skirts, and frequented nail salons. Our own Shawna Cohen playfully said that LEGO for girls already exists — and it’s called LEGO, a saying that is finding its way all over the interwebs. And although relegating girls to the corners of pink and busty seems to be a frequent move by toy makers, parents aren’t really swallowing this one all too well judging by the number of people protesting the product.

A petition shows almost 50,000 signatures asking that LEGO return to offering the toy collection to both boys and girls with non-gendered advertising. Parents have flooded the comments, many mothers attributing their engineering careers or their bright daughters to LEGOs and the company’ original message encouraging kids to build beyond gender norms.

One woman named Susan James commented:

Because I am girl who played with Legos and I became an engineer. When I was growing up, they weren’t boy or girl toys. They just were toys for everyone. Maybe if you showed more girls playing with your toys you wouldn’t have to resort to the lame girl sets.

Another mother named Mari Bonomi wrote:

My now-33 year old daughter adored her Legos. She and her friend Dan (yes, a boy) would play for hours day after day building structures and then creating adventures for their little Lego figures in those structures.

She didn’t need pink and purple Legos, nor did she need Barbie-fied environments of beaches, stores, and beauty shops. She wanted castles, dungeons, space centers, and whatever she and Dan could imagine.

She’s now all woman, smart, sexy, and stunning, earning a great living and in a great romantic relationship. She accomplished all this without ever having been relegated into a pink and purple “girls toys” ghetto.

Stefa Normantas, another concerned mother, succinctly noted the following when considering the influence of the new LEGOs on her kid:

I’d like my daughter to have a bolder vision than working on her tan.

LEGO released a statement last week addressing the concerns of parents, shaking their finger at moms and dads for “misinterpreting” their LEGO friends collection as being only for girls. The company reminds all of us that plastic-breasted LEGO ladies applying lipstick to one another is just “another theme option”:

We want to correct any misinterpretation that LEGO Friends is our only offering for girls. This is by no means the case. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of LEGO products already available. LEGO Friends joins this global collection of products as yet another theme option from which parents may choose the best building experience for their child’s skill and interest. [tagbox tag=”sexism”]

The company maintains that they are “listen[ing]” to these opinions very carefully, but no word yet on how many signatures it’s going to take for LEGO to take note of how their biggest customers and advocates don’t want what’s on the shelves. Similar to the “Beautiful and Bald!” Barbie campaign, toy makers would do well to listen to the party with the wallet. It may not be kids who are tagging their names to these petitions and Facebook pages, rallying over their preferences and collecting signatures, but as the ones who ultimately have to make these toy purchases, parents have always been the ones holding all the cards.

And whether you’re for or against bald Barbie or a unisex LEGO collection, it’s reassuring to see mothers and fathers across the web remembering that they do have a say in what their children play with and not just resigning themselves and their kids to popular interests. Given the way parents are organizing these days over product suggestions and campaigns, the stereotype of the tired mother, vacuously tossing items in their carts and sighing may be just that — a stereotype.