My Week 266: Toys For Girls And Boys

So a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Leslie, one of the “train gang ladies”, which makes us sound a lot more badass than we actually are, but really means that we all just take the train every day and stand around chatting about which train car attendant is the cutest, or meanest. Anyway, Leslie is really into Harry Potter and she told me that Chapters had their Harry Potter Lego Advent calendars for sale. And I was super-excited because I love Harry Potter. I don’t particularly like Lego myself, having realized a very long time ago that, while it’s great fun to put together, what the f*ck do you do with it afterwards? It just sits on a shelf collecting dust and if you try to play with it, it breaks into tiny pieces that you will inevitably step on. But the Advent calendar is a tiny spark of daily fun, and later, I can roleplay scenes from the Harry Potter movies for Titus. With the Lego figures. Obviously.

But it reminded me of the year that I forgot to order our Lego Advent Calendar. It was close to the beginning of December and all the good ones were sold out so I was getting panicky, but one night I was on our local Buy and Sell group and someone had a new Lego Advent Calendar for sale. I was immediately all over it. “But”, the woman cautioned, “it’s GIRL LEGO.”

I was like “So? What difference does it make?” and I bought it. Unfortunately, I was misled by my own naiveté, which had caused me to envision a bulldozer driven by a yellow lady Lego instead of a yellow man Lego. No, gentle reader, the difference was much bigger than that. I knew it when I saw the title on the box. It said Lego Friends; the “i” was DOTTED WITH A HEART, and I was immediately infuriated. Here’s what I bought. Two female dolls, and their little doll house. The “Lego” figures looked like Polly Pockets, or miniature Barbies, NOT those awesome Lego guys with the pointy heads you can put helmets and sh*t on. These girls apparently lived together and liked to cook in their kitchen with the pink blender and purple mixing bowl that came with the kit. They had a pink and purple couch, a pink and purple toboggan, pink presents, and a white kitty cat who was wearing a purple collar with a pink heart on it. And the worst part was that virtually nothing needed to be assembled. I could forgive the colour scheme (personally I LOVE the colour purple) and the cutesy hearts, because assembly is the great equalizer. However, Lego seemed to think that girls are too clumsy or stupid to put things together the way boys can, so almost everything was preassembled for them. Anyway, I was shocked that in the 21st century, this kind of blatant sexism still exists, that according to Lego, all girls like hearts, the colours purple and pink exclusively, kitty cats, and cooking, and have trouble with manual dexterity. But on the box, there’s a warning that the kit isn’t suitable for children under 3—Lego claims it’s because of a choking hazard, but I think this just gives all of us a chance to make sure our little girls play with lots of regular “boy” Lego before they turn three and have to be exposed to the ridiculous world of Lego stereotypes. Then again, when I examined the scene on the box more closely, the two girls were obviously living together, cosying up on the couch to exchange pink presents, and were planning to host a dinner party with their kitty. Could Lego, in an extremely subtle and subversive way, have created the first Lego Lesbian Couple? Maybe I was wrong about Lego after all.

But then I started to do a little more investigating and realized that, unless Lego had created an entire COLONY of queer women, they were just plain old sexist. Case in point, the Lego Friends “Lighthouse Rescue Centre” where you can join Mia, Emma and their girlfriends (the only characters pictured on the box are female) as they cavort with sea lions, and holy sh*t is that a heart on the jetski?! I don’t know about you, but I’ve NEVER seen a PINK lighthouse, let alone one with a waterslide. Compare this to the Lego Helicopter Rescue kit that features four dudes (only guys are featured on the box) and a very realistic hospital, ambulance, and helicopter.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with a girl liking pink things, or kitties, or make-up—god knows, I love ALL those things and got my hair coloured purple on Saturday—I just think children should have a choice that isn’t based on gender stereotypes forced onto them by companies like Lego. Boys can like pink lighthouses and girls can like red helicopters. And people can be whoever and whatever they want to be.

I think back to my own childhood and wonder how I managed to escape those same media stereotypes and ended up being the person I am today. (My grade 5 teacher told my parents that I was “bossy and outspoken”—you’re goddamn right I am.) I had Barbies, and a Barbie camper, but we also had the “cowboy people”, one of whom was Cowboy Jane, whose only goal in life was to f*ck with Barbie by kidnapping her baby for a hefty ransom when she was on one of her many camping trips. Finally, my brother, who has a Ph. D., and I decided to test the laws of gravity, physics, and thermodynamics all at the same time by sticking matches in the side panels of Barbie’s camper, setting it alight, and launching it into our swimming pool from my second story bedroom window (don’t tell my Mom).

Today, I’m looking after the adorable child of my brother and sister-in-law, who agrees with me that people should be able to like whatever they want—she reminded me that even though she likes pink, she also likes red and black. Right now she’s wearing a sweatshirt with a unicorn on it and she’s drawing a very realistic picture of an egg:

Me: What are you good at?
C: Um…I’m very good at drawing things.
Me: You are.
C: I’m really good at math. I’m also very good at painting. And building things.
Me: You ARE. Anything else?
C: I’m good at being kind to people and also being helpful.
Me: That’s a very important thing for everybody to be good at.
C: I’m good at paying attention. Every day at school I get a sticker for paying attention. I DO have a lot of stickers.
Me: Awesome.
C: Also, I’m going to be a veterinarian one day.
Me: Excellent.

72 thoughts on “My Week 266: Toys For Girls And Boys

  1. I never had legos! I don’t remember why; I think my brother did, but he was always building models with the glue and hanging them from his ceiling, so the legos were hardly ever touched. I had Micronauts and Shogun Warriors. I remember, in the very long hallway between our rooms, we used to set up the Micronaut rocket tubes which, if I recall correctly, would pneumatically shoot the Micronauts from one end of the hall to the other. We thought that was really cool.

    I had dolls, too. Er, I mean “action figures.” I had them all. Shazam. Iron Man. The Hulk. Even the Six-Million Dollar Man with the see-through eye-hole and button on the back you would press to see him lift a car engine. You just played the bionic sound in your head, didn’t you? Lee Majors. Such a badass. Never wore pink.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I just googled “Lego Advent Calendar,” by the way, because I had no idea what those three words together signified. Kind of like if, in a sentence, I said “Micronaut Rocket Tubes.” You might understand “rocket” and “tubes” and maybe even “Micro” or “-naut”, but the combination is, most likely perplexing.

    Still, I just saw on Amazon the “LEGO Star Wars 2019 Advent Calendar” and that’s badass. Lee Majors level badass.

    Is that a heart on the X-Wing?

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I heard someone at work talk about getting a Harry Potter Advent calendar for their son, and I too had to look it up. While I was really never into Legos, my brother had tons of them. One day he got the idea to Crazy glue them together, just like in the LEGO Movie, lol. My mom was pissed, but anyway I agree with you, kids should be and do what makes them happy.
    I mean unless their three year olds who thinking crying at the checkout line at Target makes them happy, that just makes me…….IRATE!
    What are the odds we both have a coworker/commuter named Leslie? Lol

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Having four younger sisters and no brothers, I played with my sisters’ toys as much as I did my own stuff. Probably why I’m one of the few 44 year old men who stages messed up plays with various figurines and stuffed critters I’ve collected over the years…

    That said, the boy/girl gender stereotype is so ingrained in this society that I don’t see it going away anytime soon. Toy companies test market this stuff and know what both boys and girls want… and it’s such a cutthroat world of competition, that there isn’t much room for them to try to market toys outside the box…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This is all part of the forced stereotypes put onto us when we’re young and it’s bad that this kinda thing happens. I like your idea better of girl Lego doing cool things with diggers and cars and stuff.
    Because you don’t want to be known for being tied to the kitchen do you? 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I must say, I am a bit puzzled. I want to tell you that I agree with you about the sexism of the toys, but I am kind of scared to say anything negative about Denmark. I wouldn’t want that to come back and bite me in the butt, when I decide to move over there 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A few years ago there was a story about a girl who wrote to the company that makes Easy Bake Ovens and asked if they could make one “for boys”. The only make one with a purple floral design and her brother wanted one but his parents wouldn’t let him have a “girl toy”. And if you think that’s messed up I knew a guy who was a big fan of Inspector Gadget but his parents wouldn’t let him have the Inspector Gadget toy because it was sold as a “doll” and they would only let him have “action figures”. He then had a terrible coming out when they discovered he was gay by secretly reading his diary.
    Speaking of that, though, a pink lighthouse seems pretty Freudian.
    And I had a big box of Lego when I was a kid. There was a picture of a girl and a boy playing with the same set on the box. Why did that have to change?
    I’m glad you’re a responsible role model. And by “responsible” of course I mean that you might let your niece set something on fire.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Here’s something we did a few years (XMas-time) in a row: a Harry Potter Marathon, with a twist. Count various occurrences of “things” within the movies:

    Lego? Not for me. Our kids enjoyed the big Duplo blocks – imagine huge Legos you can build a fort out of.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It’s so depressing how far things haven’t come along with sexism in the toy box. It’s all so regressive. I was fortunate to grow up well before the princess craze, thank god. I was a tomboy and I wouldn’t have stood for that crap, but still, all the “girl toys” were babies and fashion and cooking. Those things are fine if that’s what a girl is into, but I wasn’t into it!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Once again, you make me laugh at the crazy stuff with your wry observations. Breaks up my constant irritation with stereotypes that people project on me. When I was a kid, I took my Barbie and designed a dress for her and made it by hand. That was fun; I really only likedBarbie’s clothes. Your story reminds me that girls left to being people can be imaginative. What I dislike about all the plastic toys is the lack of imagination they foster – not to mention stereotypes.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I loved Lego as a kid but those were different times. Back then, there were no custom pieces and no licensed sets. Which was probably for the best because it didn’t trap me into using the instructions. And a nice side effect of all the sets being just Lego was there were no girl sets or boy sets, just a bunch of Lego that me, my brothers and my sister kept in a gym bag and happily dumped all over the floor whenever we wanted to play. Those were the good ol’ days – and now I feel like a very old man.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The only one who really played with Legos at our house was my son and he never wanted the Legos that were a kit or themed. He liked the plain ones and then he used his imagination to build and concoct whatever he wanted. He got a new pail of Legos for years and years for Xmas. Now he only wants music. CD’s to be exact. We still have the Legos–somewhere safe where they can multiply without bare feet stepping on them. Mona

    Liked by 2 people

  12. When I was a kid I had this toy called Big Jim and his sports camper. Jim was basically a Ken doll for boys with this cool plastic style Winnebago.

    I always felt bad for Jim. He needed a girlfriend. I knew he was bored of me and the way I would kick him and his plastic Winnebago down a dirt hill. It was really cool watching it smash.

    A Barbie doll would have been just right for Ken but I didn’t have the guts to ask for one. That was a bummer. But a boy asking for a Barbie would have been a bit much.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I’ve never really gotten into the whole Lego scene, although I do think a couple of the Lego movies are very amusing. As a kid, I always pictured myself building a Magnificent Lego House, but there were never enough pieces. So, it was back to playing with Barbies, which was better because a person could think up a million ways for Barbie to Save The Day.

    Liked by 2 people

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