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The latest 'Friends' range targeted at girls has received some bad press. Not much construction to do, all nail bars and shopping sort of sexism. Not the most serious bad press but its something.



I will admit I'd forgotten that, but mostly as it was complaints from consumer action groups rather than consumers, if I remember rightly Lego introduced it after parental request/requests from girls and saw a profit spike.

I don't particularly like the idea of Lego falling into gender categories as it's a toy for creative minds, but if the market wants something then the market wants something.


Some creative minds are more interested in nurseries and tea parties than in trains or robots. And it's natural for it to be so.

It's evident once you have some kids. I truly wanted that not to be the case, but reality bites.

For the PC crowd: This of course doesn't mean that girls will never play with robots or cars or that boys won't play with nurseries or tea parties. Of course a mix is healthy and should be encouraged. But the stereotypical preferences are truly marked in most cases, before parental intervention.


To be honest I think my biggest complaints about lego are cost and that it is hard just to get a big bag of basic bricks.

However I think the 'Friends' thing could have been better handled with modest tweaks. Why aren't there any boys/men in 'Friends'? What if boys want to play nurseries or tea parties.

When I was young the lego characters were mostly gender free but it seems increasingly that the 'boys' lego increasingly has male characters (even outside the branded Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings stuff). All the Firefighters and Police seem to be men when they could have been much more gender neutral (or mixed genders) without loss of fun to boys or girls.


That's not exactly true. Kids will play with whatever they want until they feel pressure to conform from either parents (if a girl asks for a toy, she's handed a Barbie) or society (marketing only showing girls playing with dolls, kitchen sets.)

You might think your child had no parental intervention, but parents are only one factor in enforcing gender roles. Are you sure you've kept them from watching TV, reading, and playing with other kids whose parents are not like you?


> with whatever they want

That's the key point. I've observed that ones tend to want one things and the others tend to want other things.

Of course there's cultural intervention, people do not live in bubbles, but it's much more subtle and, I believe, innate than what you think before having children (one data point: my daughter that I swore would never wear pink, actively prefers pink clothes, she wears other colors as well, but given a choice, usually chooses pink and from a really early age)


But there's nothing genetic that determines girls like pink more. It's all social. Your daughter probably saw all the toys and clothes directed at her being pink, all the positive attention she got when she wore that "cute" dress that happened to be pink, and all the little girls her age on television who she looked up to also wearing it.

I meant kids will play with anything. Dolls, trucks, anything their hands can get ahold of. It's only once their parents or society starts subtly and not-so-subtly telling them they should be playing with these toys and not those toys do they start having a noticeable preference. Boys aren't hard-wired to like trucks and girls aren't hard-wired to like EZ Bake Ovens. That's all society.


Yes, kids will play with anything. However, the way they use toys to play will be individual.

My daughter preferred cars and trucks while young (under 4 years). She would cover the garage with blanket for the night, put her small truck to swing etc. The style of play was very different from the way that I saw boys playing with similar toys.


All I'm trying to say is that I was of your same opinion, but facts do not support that opinion in my experience. Of course I have not done an actual controlled experiment, just some observations and little tests along the years. Yes, they will play with anything, but they still show preferences. Are those purely social? I'm not sure.

That said, I am still of the opinion that it is indeed mainly social, but that it is less social than one thinks it is, before.

I'd love to see some actual science about this, got any?


I don't have the original study I read (back in a cognitive development class in college), but I believe this one[0] should suffice. The original was a study that monitored groups of kids playing with toys and found the kids didn't develop a gendered preference until parents began interfering with toy selection. If the parents didn't interfere, they wouldn't develop a gendered preference until school age where they began interacting with other children.

[0]: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1990....


Really? There's also zoos and a camping set, a few pet-oriented set, a farm, and a horse truck thing.

It's the best in-road they've made into "Legos for Girls" ever. I can finally buy my nieces sets that they're interested in.


"Legos for Girls" isn't a road that should even be on their map. Legos for Kids is their destination.

If your nieces weren't interested in the sets Lego should have focused on better sets that were still gender-neutral. That doesn't exclude zoos, camping, or pet orientation.

What it does exclude is antics like cancelling my friend's "tomboy"ish daughter's subscription to Lego magazine and sending her Lego For Girls Magazine instead, to her great upset.

Toy gendering is stupid and inane. Lego should have nothing to do with it.


I really appreciate their Friends series. My son had tons of legos of all kinds. My daughter, who is 5 now, played with Duplo, but refused to try regular Legos. They were for boys. The Friends set are a different matter. The fact that there are real characters, with names, is crucial to her. We went on the Friends website, and went through all the information about the characters. Knowing what their hobbies and favorite colors are might seem inane, but it let her connect. Then she can go and do imaginative play with the figures.

With my son, it was all about the construction. He didn't play with sets much once they were built. My daughter liked the construction, but got more out of playing with the sets and the figures once it was built.

Other parents are entitled to their views, but I think my daughter fits the behavior Lego was going for with Friends.


So boys and girls do not exist, only kids? Because kids gendering is also stupid and inane? And later we will have only persons, not men and women? It is sad to see how people fail to see the difference between racism and merely acknowledging the race, the difference between sexism and acknowledging the gender. Or did I miss some new research which shows that we are all indeed unixes creatures with minor differences in dangling parts? Equality does not mean uniformity.


You seem to have missed some old research about how damaging it is for kids to be told the things they are into are "not for them", based on their gender.

How would we react here if somebody said "yeah, Vim is for women only", made a pink version of Vim and marketed it solely at women, in women's magazines? That's what Lego is doing.

Gendering toys is as stupid as gendering software. Sure, some toys may appeal to one gender more than the other, just like some software might. But that's no excuse for ever being exclusionary about it.


I think the sillyness of your comment comes from the imaginary line between, one the one hand, making toys that "may appeal to one gender more than the other" and "being exclusionary about it."

Is the fact that there's an aisle at Target full of pink stuff and dolls exclusionary, or simply grouping by appeal? If my niece wants to go down the Hotwheels aisle, she's certainly not going to be kept away.

And if the daughter I'm going to have here in a couple months wants to play with "boy" LEGOs, great! But I'm also grateful that if she doesn't, LEGO is trying to help me out in my quest to get her interested in their wonderful toys by making sets that appeal to typically more "girl'ish" sensibilities.


The line is not imaginary. See this very thread for examples of people bullied for choosing the "wrong" toys. If you build a toy that more girls than boys like, that's one thing. If your marketing says (either implicitly or explicitly) "this toy is for Girls", kids will pick up on that, and they will enforce it too.

The results last lifetimes. It results in adults unable to even see the exclusion as anything more than "grouping by appeal to typical girlish sensibilities". Which views they in turn pass on to their children, continuing the cycle.

Think about the world you want your daughter to live in. Do you want her to be told that "hacking is for boys" because tech appeals to more "typically boyish sensibilities"? No? Then look for the fundamental gender discriminations bullshit like that rests upon.


> If my niece wants to go down the Hotwheels aisle, she's certainly not going to be kept away.

She is, by other kids and Hotwheels marketing.


LEGO is the opposite of uniformity. A kid can build any world with basic bricks: cute bedroom, lunar station, farm, torture chamber… whatever. And the torture chamber will be different from kid to kid. Just like with normal construction material, really.

Luckily, once the initial model is built and destroyed, all your son/daughter has is a pile of random bricks with which to build whatever he/she wants.


>Equality does not mean uniformity.

Thank you, I was trying to come up with that phrase.


If your nieces weren't interested in the sets Lego should have focused on better sets that were still gender-neutral. That doesn't exclude zoos, camping, or pet orientation.

Near as I can tell, the pet shop is gender neutral, and the "Lego Friends" sets don't appear particularly gendered:

http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Pet-Shop-10218

http://shop.lego.com/en-US/LEGO-Friends-Mias-Skateboard?icmp...

Similarly, Farnsworth House (http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Farnsworth-House-21009), the 4x4 crawler (http://technic.lego.com/en-us/Products/default.aspx#9398) and mindstorms (http://mindstorms.lego.com/en-us/products/default.aspx).

The fundamental difference between Friends and the rest of lego seems to be that Friends is about people, whereas the rest of lego is about building stuff.


> "Lego Friends" sets don't appear particularly gendered:

> The fundamental difference between Friends and the rest of lego seems to be that Friends is about people, whereas the rest of lego is about building stuff.

You can't say that Lego Friends marketing isn't seriously targeted at girls.

http://friends.lego.com/en-us/Default.aspx


It's only targeted at girls if you believe that girls (but not boys) respond to female characters and themes of friendship. Similarly, regular lego is only targeted at boys if you believe boys (but not girls) respond to building stuff.

I have no trouble accepting the belief that boys and girls are different, and that building products which disproportionately provide utility to girls is beneficial. But if you disagree with this latter claim (as bonaldi seems to), then Lego is not actually targeting girls - they are merely targeting people who like friendship more than building stuff.


I understand what you mean but there is a lot of cliché in this homepage, pinky stuff, girls, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that friendship is for girl and construction is for boys.

I'm just saying that Lego Friends universe use some stereotype marketing

I would have been much less negative, if they included boys, girls, because, boys likes animals friends, pink as well as girl likes blue.

Lego: Please skip the stereotypes


It's targeted at girls because it uses all the signifiers of traditional stereotyped toy advertising, features only female characters and comes up via a special Lego For Girls page via the first Google hit on "Girls Lego" (for me, at least).

Lego may have a perception problem that it is "for boys" as mentioned upthread, but this is the worst way to redress that.


It is only natural that lego would have a "for girls" page that emphasizes product lines that they think girls may like. A lot of criticism has been leveled at Lego for being for boys only recently; I don't think an attempt to refute those allegations can fairly be said to mean that those product lines are therefore only for girls.

If I google "McDonalds communities" I get a corporate site that highlights to good McDonalds does for communities. Should I then conclude the chain is a community outreach program?


Toy gendering is neither stupid nor inane: indeed it's almost universal amongst animals who play with things identifiable as 'toys', e.g.: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18452921


That's preferences expressed at an individual level. That's fine. The problem is when you say in aggregate "only girls will like this toy, you are boy, ergo you shouldn't want this" and have marketing that either excludes or strongly suggests the toy you want is Not For You.

See the comments in this very thread about boys bullied for playing with "girl" toys. That's the awful consequence of stupid and inane gendering.


There's nothing stopping a girl from buying "boy" Legos. In fact, there are plenty of solid generic Lego sets available, and stuff like MindStorms, which is an awesome robotics kit, is not really gendered.

The problem is that Lego can't just market to kids, who have no innate idea of what's "supposed to be for boys" or what's "meant for girls" -- Lego has to market to 30+year old parents who have gender stereotypes embedded in their mindset, even some of the most progressive ones.

I think a slow transition is good, and having more toys for girls that involve building and creating is a good step forward, even if they're still a bit gendered.


I agree on the marketing point. They could have one magazine with everything in it.

It seems like, and forgive me if I inferred the wrong thing from your comment, that you are implying that some of the toys aren't gender neutral. I don't have a problem with they beauty bar and things like that. Some girls like those things. So do some boys.

The marketing side I totally agree with though. For whatever reason when I was around 8 I wanted a Barbie. I can't tell you how much I got made fun of and picked on for that. I remember hiding it when friends came over so I wouldn't get made fun of. To my mother's credit though, she didn't really even bat an eye at the thought of me playing with a girl toy.


You can't change human nature with your "gender-neutral" ideals, no matter how hard you close your eyes and try. Boys are boys, and girls are girls. They are equal but different.


It does look better than I thought, maybe the criticism was overblown and/or they have responded.

I see a few vehicles and an inventing workshop so it doesn't seem too patronising now.


My daughter's favorite character is Olivia. They have profiles of all the girls. Hers says:

    I love:
    My friends, science, school, drawing, inventing things, nature, hiking, photography, history.

    I ’m also good at:
    Reading maps, navigation by the stars, building things, computers.

    I want to be:
    A scientist or an engineer. 
I was very pleased they didn't all want to be pop stars. Olivia’s Invention Workshop is a great kit.


As someone else mentioned, the only criticism I'd level at them is that they decided to split the Lego magazine into boys' and girls' magazines. There's going to be children of any gender who enjoy the Friends sets as well as children who enjoy the Star Wars sets. No real reason to try and fit each child into one of those camps.


In that regard almost everything was sexism up and until the released of the friends series. Weapons, firemen, policemen etc etc.. I am happy that my daughter got to experience Lego like a girl.. and look, it works with the sons Lego as well..

Millinium Falcon meets Friends: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ia-V08uRi6Y/T8Mi2SzWVaI/A...

Jack Sparrow kisses before he enters the Beauty Salon https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-lODix9_sQBM/T5sLmfnEcMI/A...

And just like many girls wants it, accessories in every shape and color: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-12WsmYNOILY/T5sLjk6O3_I/A...


Back in the day the lego figures were pretty much gender free but the current firemen and policemen are exactly that (men) which is a little disappointing and completely unnecessary in my view.




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