Today, I became very infuriated during a conversation with a couple of anonymous male friends of mine, and I wanted to talk about it on my blog because where else do you go with these matters?
The conversation was regarding Christmas, a season that I look forward to all through the year. I’ve been really prepared this year, and it turns out that one of these friends has also been rather prepared (the other less so) and has bought his son some Lego for Christmas.
I should point out here that I have a lot of respect for both of these friends. I spend a lot of time with them and they are, on the whole, good eggs.
As both of these people have children, they are both aware of the toys available to societies little ones. The things that, in the lead up to the 25th of December will no doubt be put on many Christmas lists up and down the country, in the hope that someone might put in a good word to Santa and they’ll open their gifts to be overwhelmed with happiness at all the lovely new playthings they’ve accumulated.
Lego, as far as I’m concerned, is a unisex product. There is no restriction on who can play with Lego. It astounded me to hear one say to the other: “there’s not really any Lego kits for girls, is there? It’s all knights and pirate ships, they don’t really do castles”
Usually, due to the environment that we were in I would have just ignored this, but I was in a bit of a funny mood this morning so I decided to call this statement out.
From my perspective, girls can and do play with knights and pirate ships, and enjoy these things just as much as boys do. I see no reason why there should be gender stereotypes that say young person x shouldn’t play with that because they are a girl in the same way that there shouldn’t be stereotypes that say young person y shouldn’t play with that because they are a boy.
In our society, target audiences are incredibly important. I know this because I work closely with brands on a daily basis and I understand that in order for a product to work it has to suit the wants and needs of particular groups of people, otherwise you’d be shooting in the dark and crossing your fingers that someone might take an interest in your idea.
To me, however, the idea of gender stereotyping of children that are barely out of nappies is upsetting. Why should girls like princesses and castles and boys like cars and pirate ships? Why can’t they both like both things, or neither if they choose. Why can’t boys play with dolls if they want to and girls have toy soldiers?
I’d be interested to know your opinions on the Lego debate in the comments below.