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The Gender Stereotyping of Toys(and toy marketing in general)

cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm RogueCoral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
edited January 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
Inspired by the newest Feminist Frequency video, which usually go to great lengths to ridicule and/or highlight shameless attempts of stereotyping genders in marketing and media in general.

So basically Lego are making sets designed specifically for girls.

Raise a hand if you see where that's going.

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The male-oriented lego sets, of course, focus on fire-fighting, search and rescue, and other adventure-themed toys which girls are expected to have no interest in whatsoever.



From working in retail, I always thought the ideas of marketing toys and/or games to genders based on stereotype was as shameless as it gets. I hated seeing parents getting toys for their kids based on stereotypes that marketing like that sort promotes. The FF videos point out how ridiculous this can be.

The creator has a second part coming up to suggest how Lego can market future sets without catering to the girly and pink & purple theme, so that should be worth a watch.

Until then, food for thought.

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  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure the current Ambulance / Hospital / Police / Firefighter sets have female professionals in the sets currently. There is no reason little girls cannot use the current sets.

    Pink / Pastel lego is their attempt to cater to a market that isnt currently being focused on. If someone wants pink/pastel building blocks, they cannot get them in the Lego brand, which is what these new sets are going to correct.

    It seems like the adventure sets that parody indiana jones / jurassic park style sets enforce the gender roles since they dont have a female heroine in them, but maybe they have released a Lara Croft set since the last time I looked.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    The Pink Aisle works because of the absence of boy toys there. Girls and their parents gravitate towards there because they know everything on that row of shelves is 'appropriate' for girls. Having a whole wall of doe-eyed, pink, smiling things staring out at the customer has to have some kind of hypnotic quality or else toy stores wouldn't do it.

    I want to know what happens when you break up the Pink Aisle and put girl toys in random places around the store. Barbie dolls next to the GI JOEs. My Little Pony next to the Hot Wheels.

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  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    The thing that annoys me most about these discussions is the inevitable pointing out that they "just make what sells"

    As though they check a big chart of all the things that will ever be created, select a few bestsellers, and release them.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Maybe it's because I have a sister that's only a year younger than me and we lived in a household that shared all the toys with each other, but lego never struck me as a boy's toy or anything like that, so the current thing feels like pointless pandering.

    Then again this was before all the branded Indiana Jones/Star Wars/Harry Potter lego turned up, so maybe that's why some people perceive it more as a boy's toy these days.

  • chiasaur11chiasaur11 Never doubt a raccoon. Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure the current Ambulance / Hospital / Police / Firefighter sets have female professionals in the sets currently. There is no reason little girls cannot use the current sets.

    Pink / Pastel lego is their attempt to cater to a market that isnt currently being focused on. If someone wants pink/pastel building blocks, they cannot get them in the Lego brand, which is what these new sets are going to correct.

    It seems like the adventure sets that parody indiana jones / jurassic park style sets enforce the gender roles since they dont have a female heroine in them, but maybe they have released a Lara Croft set since the last time I looked.

    All the lego adventure sets I've seen recently have lady-type minifigs to go with the guys. Sometimes they're only in the high priced sets, but they're there. Female tough looking pilot in the Alien Conquest HQ, for example.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    Maybe it's because I have a sister that's only a year younger than me and we lived in a household that shared all the toys with each other, but lego never struck me as a boy's toy or anything like that, so the current thing feels like pointless pandering.

    Then again this was before all the branded Indiana Jones/Star Wars/Harry Potter lego turned up, so maybe that's why some people perceive it more as a boy's toy these days.

    Indeed.

    Also, since when is Harry Potter a "boys" thing?

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    There's pretty much no way around the "friends" series being patronizing and gender-normative.

    The regular lego toy lines don't seem to have much to peg (ha ha!) them as particularly gender-exclusive, and the make-everything-pink marketing strategy is hardly unique to lego, but still... yech

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
    funny how information changes the facts that you know
  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    emnmnme wrote:
    The Pink Aisle works because of the absence of boy toys there. Girls and their parents gravitate towards there because they know everything on that row of shelves is 'appropriate' for girls. Having a whole wall of doe-eyed, pink, smiling things staring out at the customer has to have some kind of hypnotic quality or else toy stores wouldn't do it.

    I want to know what happens when you break up the Pink Aisle and put girl toys in random places around the store. Barbie dolls next to the GI JOEs. My Little Pony next to the Hot Wheels.

    Solutions simple. Noise Marines.
    Maybe it's because I have a sister that's only a year younger than me and we lived in a household that shared all the toys with each other, but lego never struck me as a boy's toy or anything like that, so the current thing feels like pointless pandering.

    Then again this was before all the branded Indiana Jones/Star Wars/Harry Potter lego turned up, so maybe that's why some people perceive it more as a boy's toy these days.

    Indeed.

    Also, since when is Harry Potter a "boys" thing?
    That's easy. Go back a generation and a half or so and then the roots of things things are easy. Boys get Cowboys and Indians, Girls get Hoovers and dolls, skip forward a generation and boys get action figures and computer games - whilst girls have more realistic dolls. Now skip one more and we've got dinosaurs with battle damage, game consoles and yet more realistic dolls?

    Girls who were/are into games buy the games that grew because the boys wanted those toys. Girls who aren't never played them and don't get it as mothers. We've 'skipped' a generation because it takes a while for kids to design their own toys, and even longer for them to realise what they could of had rather than what they think they wanted.

    When I was at school, I know very few girls who played games consoles, and now there's very few games I own that have a 15 certificate, let alone an 18. If you weren't lucky enough to have the right sort of brother then you tended not to be exposed to this sort of thing. I'm the sole Skyrim widower at work, but the only one amongst the rest of widows who actually understands why.

    Boys toys have always been about escapism and fun, whilst girls have had to live with simulation (and not even that exclusively with the various tool sets/garages etc).
    Might also have something to do with the (working) man's job get increasingly hard to explain, whilst a housewife's doesn't. Lot easier to understand what a Hoover does than a PCR machine, so one parent teaches whilst the other has to join in fantasy.

    Tastyfish on
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  • NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    Same here, always figured Lego was pretty gender neutral (till the franchised sets).

    Hate to bring it up but what about My Little Pony? Clearly marketed to girls for years but now there's a sudden spike in male interest as well.

    newSig.jpg
  • South hostSouth host I obey without question Registered User regular
    Tastyfish wrote:

    Solutions simple. Noise Marines.

    Yes. Yessssssss.

    Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.
  • IblisIblis Registered User regular
    My girlfriend started to collect My Little Pony toys after she got into the new cartoon series, and the penchant for slathering things in pink has been a pretty constant annoyance for her. Is that character pink? No? Make them pink anyway! Are they a color similar to pink? Make it pinker! Is that character pink? Make a billion toys of it! ...What do you mean it's not selling? It's pink!

    At least that's a problem she's complained about a lot. I have no idea how it is business wise, but it does seem like they go a tad overboard. Seems like making something pink is their default solution as opposed to thinking about how to make more interesting toys.

  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    South host wrote:
    Tastyfish wrote:

    Solutions simple. Noise Marines.

    Yes. Yessssssss.

    Careful now, that many 'S's in this thread may well end you up on a register.

    Tastyfish on
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    This isn't the first time LEGO has tried to market a line for girls.

    Just throwing that out there.

    Anyways...



    http://www.businessweek.com/printer/magazine/lego-is-for-girls-12142011.html
    Over the years, Lego has had five strategic initiatives aimed at girls. Some failed because they misapprehended gender differences in how kids play. Others, while modestly profitable, didn’t integrate properly with Lego’s core products. Now, after four years of research, design, and exhaustive testing, Lego believes it has a breakthrough.

    ...

    Encouraged by what it had learned about boys, Lego sent its team back out to scrutinize girls, starting in 2007. The company was surprised to learn that in their eyes, Lego suffered from an aesthetic deficit. “The greatest concern for girls really was beauty,” says Hanne Groth, Lego’s market research manager. Beauty, on the face of it, is an unsurprising virtue for a girl-friendly toy, but based on the ways girls played, Groth says, it came, as “mastery” had for boys, to stand for fairly specific needs: harmony (a pleasing, everything-in-its-right-place sense of order); friendlier colors; and a high level of detail.

    “It was an education,” recalls Fenella Blaize Holden, an under-30 British designer, on the process of getting Lego Friends made. “No one could understand, why do we need more than one handbag? So I’d have to say, well, is one sword enough for the knights, or is it better to have a dagger, too? And then they’d come around.”

    Lego confirmed that girls favor role-play, but they also love to build—just not the same way as boys. Whereas boys tend to be “linear”—building rapidly, even against the clock, to finish a kit so it looks just like what’s on the box—girls prefer “stops along the way,” and to begin storytelling and rearranging. Lego has bagged the pieces in Lego Friends boxes so that girls can begin playing various scenarios without finishing the whole model. Lego Friends also introduces six new Lego colors—including Easter-egg-like shades of azure and lavender. (Bright pink was already in the Lego palette.)

    Then there are the lady figures. Twenty-nine mini-doll figures will be introduced in 2012, all 5 millimeters taller and curvier than the standard dwarf minifig. There are five main characters. Like American Girl Dolls, which are sold with their own book-length biographies, these five come with names and backstories. Their adventures have a backdrop: Heartlake City, which has a salon, a horse academy, a veterinary clinic, and a café. “We had nine nationalities on the team to make certain the underlying experience would work in many cultures,” says Nanna Ulrich Gudum, senior creative director.

    The key difference between girls and the ladyfig and boys and the minifig was that many more girls projected themselves onto the ladyfig—she became an avatar. Boys tend to play with minifigs in the third person. “The girls needed a figure they could identify with, that looks like them,” says Rosario Costa, a Lego design director. The Lego team knew they were on to something when girls told them, “I want to shrink down and be there.”

    The Lego Friends team is aware of the paradox at the heart of its work: To break down old stereotypes about how girls play, it risks reinforcing others. “If it takes color-coding or ponies and hairdressers to get girls playing with Lego, I’ll put up with it, at least for now, because it’s just so good for little girls’ brains,” says Lise Eliot. A neuroscientist at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, Eliot is the author of Pink Brain Blue Brain, a 2009 survey of hundreds of scientific papers on gender differences in children. “Especially on television, the advertising explicitly shows who should be playing with a toy, and kids pick up on those cues,” Eliot says. “There is no reason to think Lego is more intrinsically appealing to boys.”



    To a certain degree, they are doing this because this is what sells.

    I tend to lean towards agreeing with Lise Eliot. I'll put up with it, at least for now, because Legos are awesome.

    An ideal situation would be greater integration between 'boy' Legos and 'girl' Legos. It's unfortunate that they're not there yet.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    dunno if I'd like the new kind of minifigs to be made standard. For one thing, they are larger. Makes it way harder to make buildings / vehicles / stuff to scale.

  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    Are dwarfs not smaller? Or are the taller ones the technik guys?

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    BTW, feministfrequency is one of the few blogs that actually posts transcripts of their YouTube videos.

    You can read the transcript of the video in the OP here: http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/01/lego-gender-part-1-lego-friends/#more-2150

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • MulysaSemproniusMulysaSempronius but also susie nyRegistered User regular
    I blame parents.
    Every time I see somebody dress their daughter up as a little princess, I die a little inside. As much as the parents who raise their kids "gender neutral" seem a little hippy-dippy, I think I'd rather see that than the weird stereotypes I see so often with little girls.

    If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
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  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    Tastyfish wrote:
    Are dwarfs not smaller? Or are the taller ones the technik guys?

    The dwarfs are pretty much the same size as the normal ones (and so kewl). Very slightly shorter.

    I was saying the new more detailed figs they are using for the Friends (eg: "for girls" I guess....) line look like (from the lego website) they are much larger than the old ones.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    Also looking at this line of sets ( http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Default.aspx ) they aren't really pink so much as pastel. There's a lot more purple and blue than pink.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    I blame parents.
    Every time I see somebody dress their daughter up as a little princess, I die a little inside. As much as the parents who raise their kids "gender neutral" seem a little hippy-dippy, I think I'd rather see that than the weird stereotypes I see so often with little girls.

    Parents are just one influence among a sea of influences.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Also looking at this line of sets ( http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Default.aspx ) they aren't really pink so much as pastel. There's a lot more purple and blue than pink.

    Feministfrequency also glossed over that two of the professions available are veterinarian (somewhat female-gendered; it's more girly than doctor) and inventor (not typically female-gendered at all).

    They're right that most of the professions are stuff like baker and beautician. But I don't feel that they're being entirely fair to LEGO.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    The tree-house one really isn't a bad set. Though the more I look at these the less I like these minifigs. It doesn't look like you can swap their parts around.

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    Someone is going to buy all these sets, and use the curved pieces to assist in the construction of a massive dong.

  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    Feral wrote:
    Also looking at this line of sets ( http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Default.aspx ) they aren't really pink so much as pastel. There's a lot more purple and blue than pink.

    Feministfrequency also glossed over that two of the professions available are veterinarian (somewhat female-gendered; it's more girly than doctor) and inventor (not typically female-gendered at all).

    They're right that most of the professions are stuff like baker and beautician. But I don't feel that they're being entirely fair to LEGO.
    Getting a bit wierd as well in the UK at the moment, w
    I blame parents.
    Every time I see somebody dress their daughter up as a little princess, I die a little inside. As much as the parents who raise their kids "gender neutral" seem a little hippy-dippy, I think I'd rather see that than the weird stereotypes I see so often with little girls.

    With the UK tuition fees rise we're seeing a shift from boys to girls applying, and it's been at least 10 years since I was in a male dominated class/department (as a Biologist/Biochemist). Then again, as I kind of said before the nature of toys has changed along with a parent's relationship to them. If we were to have a daughter, then I'd want to be involved and share in the same silly things I was. Her mum loves the Eldar Scrolls, and if she fancied taking on Necrons then if she were to be conceived tonight then she'd probably come of age to learn the game right in time for a new codex too.

    Boy's toys are just more fun, and the real effort needs to be directed at the female parents to understand this. Pretty sure in a generation or two we'll just have 'children's toys' that whilst admittedly having a few different themes and colour schemes, kind of lead you into the more complicated and less gender specific grown up toys.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    what happened to lego starter kits and block sets anyway


    you can't stereotype a standard set of 2x4s

    Paladin on
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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote:
    you can't stereotype a standard set of 2x4s

    CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Feral wrote:
    Also looking at this line of sets ( http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Default.aspx ) they aren't really pink so much as pastel. There's a lot more purple and blue than pink.

    Feministfrequency also glossed over that two of the professions available are veterinarian (somewhat female-gendered; it's more girly than doctor) and inventor (not typically female-gendered at all).

    They're right that most of the professions are stuff like baker and beautician. But I don't feel that they're being entirely fair to LEGO.

    Aren't professional bakers traditionally male?

    One thing to consider is that some consider the "pink phase" that girls go through to be a stage where girls recognize gender dimorphism and thereby reenforce their gender stereotypes as a way of establishing identity. Under this framework, girls who respond to pink also respond to girly toys.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    Bagginses wrote:
    Feral wrote:
    Also looking at this line of sets ( http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Products/Default.aspx ) they aren't really pink so much as pastel. There's a lot more purple and blue than pink.

    Feministfrequency also glossed over that two of the professions available are veterinarian (somewhat female-gendered; it's more girly than doctor) and inventor (not typically female-gendered at all).

    They're right that most of the professions are stuff like baker and beautician. But I don't feel that they're being entirely fair to LEGO.

    Aren't professional bakers traditionally male?

    One thing to consider is that some consider the "pink phase" that girls go through to be a stage where girls recognize gender dimorphism and thereby reenforce their gender stereotypes as a way of establishing identity. Under this framework, girls who respond to pink also respond to girly toys.

    Yes, want the pink toys because they think they're supposed to want them to be normal. Marketing!

    easybossfight_zps4752c132.gif
  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    I have seen parents correct their boys/girls for picking the 'wrong' toys, like if a boy grabs a Barbie or the girl a GI Joe. Lego is marketed, perceived, and primarily in use as a boy's toy. If this product line means more parents will allow their daughters to play with Lego, I'm all for it.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    I dunno, I always thought of lego as one of the few fairly gender-neutral toys

    at least, I knew a fair number of girls who played with them in primary school

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
    funny how information changes the facts that you know
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    In light of this discussion, I loved it when this old advertisement from 1981 came back into the debate:

    Lego-ad.jpg

    And my (hopeful) daughter will have a very geek-normative upbringing, starting with a plush blue dalek in her crib.

    DoctorArch on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    Feral wrote:
    This isn't the first time LEGO has tried to market a line for girls.

    Just throwing that out there.

    Yep, a similar point is made in the video, which shows the history of Lego doing this.

    I think the idea is that maybe by now companies can try to grow past that, and the same old girly marketing tactics.

    fiV9i14.jpg
    蒼く咲く華 日は灯り 天に流れる | Kill The Past
  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited February 2012
    Tastyfish wrote:
    Are dwarfs not smaller? Or are the taller ones the technik guys?

    The dwarfs are pretty much the same size as the normal ones (and so kewl). Very slightly shorter.

    I was saying the new more detailed figs they are using for the Friends (eg: "for girls" I guess....) line look like (from the lego website) they are much larger than the old ones.

    Wiki says they're approximately the same size, just more detailed. And at least a couple pictures show their legs fitting on the legos.

    Quid on
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  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    DoctorArch wrote:
    In light of this discussion, I loved it when this old advertisement from 1981 came back into the debate:

    Lego-ad.jpg

    And my (hopeful) daughter will have a very geek-normative upbringing, starting with a plush blue dalek in her crib.

    i hope she loves basketball and mocks your nerd shit!

    XMSODhjrer45.gif
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    Organichu wrote:
    DoctorArch wrote:
    In light of this discussion, I loved it when this old advertisement from 1981 came back into the debate:

    And my (hopeful) daughter will have a very geek-normative upbringing, starting with a plush blue dalek in her crib.

    i hope she loves basketball and mocks your nerd shit!

    She will be six foot five inches of awesome! She better play basketball.

    steam_sig.png
  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    If I ever have a daughter, and she gets into pink and pretty pretty princess stuff, more power to her.

    But if she wants to spend her free time watching Battlestar and collecting action figures instead, that's just as cool by me. On the other hand, having a son who started taking a liking to dolls might be harder to explain away.


    ...


    What's a dalek?

    fiV9i14.jpg
    蒼く咲く華 日は灯り 天に流れる | Kill The Past
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Cute ad.

    Even if it is a creepy kid.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    cj iwakura wrote:
    What's a dalek?

    This: daleks.jpg

    This: Doctor-Who-Talking-Plush-Dalek.jpg

    And This: il_570xN.262571270.jpg

    steam_sig.png
  • wanderingwandering Registered User regular
    When I was a kid I asked for and got an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas because I wanted to bake some delicious cakes.

    jBEKRTH.png
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    when i was a kid i used a real oven

    because i'm a MAN

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