The feminist outrage of the day is at a new LEGO product line — “LEGO Friends,” which features LadyFigs (cute and slightly curvy girl figurines) and construction sets for a hot tub, a splash pool, a beauty parlor, an outdoor bakery, a convertible and an inventor’s workshop.
Predictably, some feminists are upset at such “stereotyping of preferred pastimes for girls.” (Yes, I do seem to recall that girls have been encouraged to be inventors since at least the time of Edison.)
“What it’s doing is telling girls that this is what’s important to you,” Dana Edell, director of the SPARK movement, told Fox News. “Girls aren’t building space shuttles, they’re getting their nails done.”
The SPARK movement launched a petition against the product line and collected 55,000 signatures — enough to nab a meeting today with LEGO to voice their criticisms directly to the LEGO brand relations director. A LEGO spokesman says the company welcomes both complimentary and critical feedback and will take it into account.
The SPARK movement specifically objects to the sexualization of women in the media — and that’s a goal with which I’m sympathetic. When it comes to the little LEGO figurines, they’d be on somewhat solid ground if they were to complain about the LadyFigs’ attire. The figurines’ shirts and shorts are pretty skimpy! Instead, Edell objected to their “little breasts and fancy hair.” I’m assuming she didn’t mean to imply the LEGO Friends should have big breasts; she meant to imply they shouldn’t have girlish figures at all, but should be every bit as boxy as LEGO men. (What’s wrong with “fancy hair”? I’m sure I don’t know.)
As always, my concern is that feminists seem to want to obliterate gender difference entirely. Like the women of the SPARK movement, I want women to know they’re capable to construct space shuttles, but I don’t want us to think we’re like men — because we’re not. And yes, that fact is inscribed into our very bodies, so depictions of women should look different than depictions of men. Such depictions shouldn’t reduce women to their bodies — that’s the sexualization and objectification to which all women should object — but it shouldn’t deny the very real differences in the appearances of men and women.
At any rate, the entire SPARK movement campaign misses the broader point: LEGO wasn’t sexualizing girls by introducing LEGO Friends, nor was it trying to box girls into specific roles. LEGO didn’t bar parents from buying their daughters traditional LEGO toys and they didn’t bar parents from buying their sons LEGO Friends. They just gave parents an additional option — and the success rate of the line so far suggests some parents like it. If feminists don’t, they don’t have to buy the products.
But also — I fail to see how the feminist preoccupation with convincing girls and women that they don’t care about “traditional female pastimes” is any different than the preoccupation with convincing girls and women that they do. Shouldn’t feminists leave it up to girls themselves to decide what interests them and what they want to do with their lives?