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April 24, 2012

Regrettable Girly-Themed Lego Sets

Over the weekend, the Editorial Staff learned to our horror that the Patriarchy has discovered a new way to crush the souls of young girls - girly themed Lego sets:

According to the LEGO Group, their new line was designed based on four years of research into the ways in which boys and girls play.

...and you thought it was only conservatives who ignore Science when it doesn't fit the narrative! But wait, there's more gender injustice!

Bradley Wieners, executive editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, investigated why LEGO was trying to attract more girls at all. On the surface, he discovered they were responding directly to parents like Peggy Orenstein, author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" and poster-mom for equal-opportunity play. He quoted Orenstein saying, "The last time I was in a Lego store, there was this little pink ghetto over in one corner. And I thought, really? This is the best you can do?" The goal was to give little girls another option when they reach the "princess phase," at around four-years-old, the time when boys their age enter their "LEGO-phase." Because, as BusinessWeek reported, "Unlike tiaras and pink chiffon, Lego play develops spatial, mathematical, and fine motor skills, and lets kids build almost anything they can imagine, often leading to hours of quiet, independent play."

But, Wieners foresaw backlash to LEGO Friends. "They're definitely running a risk here of reinforcing some stereotypes, even as they try to break down the ones about girls building," he told NPR's Morning Edition.

And, within a few weeks of Wiener's article running and the new LEGOs being announced, a 1981 LEGO ad surfaced -- a photo of an adorable little redheaded girl (pictured below). She is wearing overalls and sneakers. She is holding an elaborate LEGO creation. The ad copy: "What it is is beautiful." Parents and childless adults alike connected with the image, clicked their Like buttons and sent it flying around Facebook. For places like Princess Free Zone and moms like Sarah Maida, the ad was a perfect foil to LEGO's newer, glossier, "sexier" girl-focused ads.

"It would be easy to assume that this is just about LEGO, but [it] is part of a much larger marketing environment that puts the interests of girls and boys into ... limiting boxes," said Cole, one of the women behind the new petition agains LEGO Friends. Indeed, other classic brands including Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony -- and even Troll dolls -- have been transformed. The characters are much more slender, many look like they've gotten hair extensions, the Trolls carry purses. Sociological Images found nine examples which can be seen below.

This got us thinking: what kind of girly-themed Lego sets would meet the approval of gender warriors on both sides of the Battle of the Sexes? A few suggestions:

1. Lego Friends "Bunny Ranch" Set: In a daring twist on the ever-popular Susie's Lemonade ads, an anatomically correct female Lego character with ginormous fake boobs and hair extensions casts off outdated gender stereotypes (and her inhibitions!) by opening a wildly successful brothel staffed by robot prostitutes.

2. Nancy Hopkins Science Lab: Intrepid female scientist seeks to prove women are just as objective and unemotional as men by threatening to faint at the first whiff of an offensive null hypothesis!

3. Hypergamy Heaven: Shameless, gold digging cougars chase tiny alpha males with supersized wallets - compete to see who can snag the biggest sugar daddy!

4. Glass Ceiling Set - confused Mommy longs to stay home and watch soap operas and breastfeed her 5 children until their 18th birthdays, but is chained to her desk by scheming feminists who won't let her make her own decisions. The horror!

Oh go on... you know you want to.

Posted by Cassandra at April 24, 2012 08:07 AM

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I'm wondering if one of the worst things to happen to business and marketing was the rise of the MBA with all their "studying".

Reminds me of a child getting an elaborate toy and prefering to play with the box it came in.

Then you have these moronic parents demanding "equal products".

Next thing they'll be demanding a Barbie set for boys.

Posted by: Bill Brandt at April 24, 2012 08:35 AM

Next thing they'll be demanding a Barbie set for boys.

1965 - It was called "GI Joe."

See, boys will play with dolls, as long as you include guns, grenades and the occasional flame thrower as accessories. :P

Posted by: Pogue at April 24, 2012 08:52 AM

You have a point, Pogue ;-) A little dirt thrown in doesn't hurt either....

Posted by: Bill Brandt at April 24, 2012 10:28 AM

At least there's still something in Legos actually to do. I recall as a boy sneering at Legos with all their rounded, pre-molded plastic parts compared to my erector set that was full of nuts, bolts, long and short strips of (sharp-edged) metal that could be bolted together to make...stuff. Now those erector sets have been eunuch-ized.

Today's chemistry sets are all pretty pictures, with none of the chemicals (potassium cyanide salt, sulfuric acid, and so on), bunson burners, and actual experiments of the original chemistry sets. We can't even buy that stuff over the counter to replenish our supplies, anymore.

This is part of the outcome of our epicyclic orrery of rules.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 24, 2012 12:58 PM

Reminds me of this true story, for some reason:
Mom hears her ~10 year old soccer player daughter and neighbor boy run in from outdoors and rush upstairs. A few minutes they run down.
Mom calls out - what were you doing upstairs?
Daughter yells back - ___ didn't believe I was a girl!
Mom - So... what did you do?
I showed him my trophies!

New slang was born that day.

Posted by: tomg51 at April 24, 2012 01:16 PM

Glass-Ceiling Mom is my favorite. You can't start too early to persuade little girls that they should allow themselves to be paralyzed by ambivalence, resentment, and passivity.

I loved Tinker Toys. I don't think I had an erector set, but I would have loved that, too. Legos, I believe, came along too late for me.

I can't recall having any gender-specific toys. My sisters and I had no brothers, so as I recall we just played with what we thought of as "toys." They included building sets as well as little figures of people and animals. I had a neighbor whose family must have been a little more toy-oriented, or a bit richer, and I was enthralled with her selection of gyroscopes and tops and jack-in-the-boxes. Another neighbor had a fabulous set of 64-color crayolas that I remember in detail to this day. Sometimes, if we had lumber, we'd build forts. More often, we played elaborate all-day games of what we called "chase" -- you know, someone's "it" and tries to tag the others before they make it back to a safe base. We never played formal sports.

There is a nice scene in an episode of "Burn Notice" where the ex-IRA weapons expert chick teaches a little boy how to play with his army guys. She carefully explains where each one should be positioned in order to make the best use of his specialized weapons and tactical advantages, and how to ensure that the whole team reinforces each others' strengths.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 24, 2012 03:28 PM

How about cowboys-and-Proud Indigenous Persons themed sets, where the cowboys (male or female) are made out of ant food? That way the oppressors can be buried alive in fire ant mounds, and the children can enjoy an extra science lesson about the cycle of life to boot.

Posted by: Grim at April 24, 2012 03:32 PM

I'm just horrified that people apparently have nothing better to worry about. Writing petitions against a toy line? Ok, MAYBE if the toy was "Hot Shards of Gasoline Coated Glass!" But come ON!

Posted by: MikeD at April 24, 2012 04:15 PM

"Hot Shards of Gasoline Coated Glass!"

Hey! It took me a long time to come up with the prototype for that yanno. You have no idea how hard it is to get glass to explode into the same-sized, equally-coated shards of glass every single time.

Posted by: Snarkammando at April 24, 2012 04:31 PM

And in reality, it was only supposed to be an accessory for Sparking Rollerblade Barbie.

Posted by: Snarkammando at April 24, 2012 04:38 PM

I hear you need to use room temperature lagsana to really get it to work.

Posted by: MikeD at April 24, 2012 04:38 PM


Posted by: MikeD at April 24, 2012 04:38 PM

...the toy was "Hot Shards of Gasoline Coated Glass!"

Reminds me of the toys with which we played in high school. We made our own black powder, albeit with store-bought stuff, rather than producing and grinding our own charcoal, saltpeter, and so on. And it was more fun to make than better gun powders.

Then we made our own black powder bombs. Then we made our own mortars and, through empirical experimentation, taught ourselves how to fuse our black powder bombs so that the fusing would be lit by the black powder charges in our mortars that launched our bombs so that those bombs would go off at useful altitudes for air bursts. Consistently.

I've written elsewhere of a grad student colleague who brewed up gun cotton in one of our rat lab sinks in support of her younger brother's science fair project. Too bad we'd not thought of that one in high school....

Try to do any of that stuff today.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 24, 2012 04:46 PM

"We made our own black powder, albeit with store-bought stuff, rather than producing and grinding our own charcoal, saltpeter, and so on. And it was more fun to make than better gun powders."

Sounds mighty familiar. Hmmmm...
*checks nolo for various statutes of limitation... decides to remain silent anywho*

I'll let it go with a tip of the hat to Mr. Wizard.

WRT gender warriors and their toys, I suggest Nanobots RevengeĀ® with the following wish for those tiresome gender warriors. May a nanobot facsimile of the fleas of a thousand camels infest their gender hating warrior naughty bits**.

* Nanobots RevengeĀ® is not intended for well adjusted individuals.

**Batteries not included.

Posted by: bt_curmudgeon-for-hire_hun at April 24, 2012 06:07 PM

*scrolls over Nanobots RevengeĀ® with cursor....looks down to bottom of screen....tilts head...scrolls over again...looks down....*

No hyperlink!?!
Awwww, maaannnnnn.
*scuffs toe on floor*
No fair.

Posted by: Snarkammando at April 24, 2012 06:52 PM

"Hypergamy Heaven"--why not . . . teach 'em early on that the only important trait in a man is his wallet. {Shudder}

I'd say more, but feminists have tragically chained me to my desk, so I must get back to work . . .

Posted by: Joy McCann/Little Miss Attila at April 25, 2012 02:31 AM

Still remember my ex-wife instructing her teenage niece, "Gold - always gold - diamonds are nice too - just test both to make sure they're real before giving out anything!"

Posted by: Grumpy Curmudgeon at April 25, 2012 11:58 AM

"My Little Pony...much more slender...look like they've gotten hair extensions..."

What's John Edwards got to do with this??

Posted by: Grumpy Curmudgeon at April 25, 2012 12:06 PM

There is a reason why little boys and little girls enter those 'phases' at those ages: The body releases pre-courser hormones. Sort of like hard-wiring their brains for the onset of puberty and the gender differences.

Just a thought...

Posted by: Carolyn at April 26, 2012 11:47 AM

A Marie Curie set, where she glows after she discovers x-rays.

My parents didn't set out to engage us in gender-specific role play. We just segregated ourselves after a certain age. I played with dolls and my brothers played GI Joe. We made roads with their Tonka vehicles, and enactd scenes from the Old West. We used their cap guns, and played field games such as softball together. I really think this woman was denied her 15 minutes of fame when she gave birth.

Posted by: Carolyn at April 26, 2012 11:52 AM

For Eric, because nothing says 'I care' like a link to a blast from the past: http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/foxfire5.html

Posted by: Carolyn at April 26, 2012 11:57 AM

Aww.. [looking down, scuffing toes in dirt]

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 26, 2012 02:12 PM

From Carolyn's link: The urine, substituted for water, gives the powder more oxygen and higher performance.

We weren't that hard core, Ma'am. I did hear, though, perhaps apocalypticly, that soldiers, time permitting, used to urinate down their black powder muskets as part of their cleaning process. The acidic nature of the urine helped cut the crud buildup in the barrels.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 26, 2012 02:15 PM

That reminds me of my husband's instinctive reaction to the scene in "Red Dawn" when our heroes pee into an empty radiator on their escape truck. He blurted out, "Don't hit the battery!"

Posted by: Texan99 at April 26, 2012 02:37 PM

""Don't hit the battery!""

It's the 15-40 kV emitted from the coil, connected to the distributor and spark plugs of a running engine that would have really roasted that young, ah, wolverine...

Posted by: bthun at April 26, 2012 03:12 PM

"Don't hit the battery!"

But our heroes, trained as they are in Hollywood, are excellent shots....

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 26, 2012 03:35 PM

I have heard a rumor that 'Red Dawn' is being remade. That news sent the CLUs and the Two Young Men into a tizzy. I wonder who the villains would be, since we no longer have raging communism to worry about, since creeping socialism has all but taken over. Terrorists? Kudzu? The mind boggles.

Howsomeever, JIC we have to get that hardcore, stuff like that is good to know, since the anarchist's cookbook has been taken off the web.

Posted by: Carolyn at April 26, 2012 11:08 PM

I wonder who the villains would be, since we no longer have raging communism to worry about, since creeping socialism has all but taken over.

Why, the evil conservatives, Silly. "Red Dawn" plainly refers to the Red States that must be reeducated, in the Jeffersonian way.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 26, 2012 11:47 PM

Red Dawn was being remade with China (we are here to help you - sound familiar?) replacing the previous Cuban/Russian villains. It was originally scheduled to be released prior to the 2010 elections, but was considered too politically incorrect to depict our largest debt holder to be a villain, and our Chicago Jesus to be an accessory to the takeover, so it was to be re-written and re-shot, no further news about expected release.

Posted by: Grumpy Curmudgeon at April 27, 2012 09:44 AM

Zionists, clearly.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 27, 2012 10:14 AM

I'd like to see Mr. Hines' version. "We need to occupy Georgia in order to transform the culture."

"No problem, sir. The 75th Ranger Regiment is already on the ground, along with the whole 3rd Infantry Division."

"Good initiative! How long have they been there?"

"Um, some of those units since 1918."

Posted by: Grim at April 27, 2012 11:34 AM

I'd like to see Mr. Hines' version. "We need to occupy Georgia in order to transform the culture."

But, but--the Russians already did that, and they carved out Abkhazia and South Ossetia for their own needs.

Oh, wait....

This time the reeducation is through the addiction of entitlements. Of course some will be harder to reeducate than others.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 27, 2012 03:10 PM