Sexist Legos? Feminist Group Denounces Lego For LadyFigs

Feminists have launched a campaign of criticism against the Danish company, Lego, over its new line of figures called LadyFigs. Lego has added subtle curves to its new “LEGO Friends.” Not exactly soft porn, mind you. Just characters without the traditional blocky form. Nevertheless, SPARK executive director, Dana Edell,”They have little breasts and they have fancy hair.”

The Ladyfigs have a hot tub, a splash pool, a beauty parlor, an outdoor bakery and a convertible as well as an inventor’s workshop.

SPARK says that the male figures have tasks like building space shuttles while the female figures can have their hair done. Edell says that “it just disturbs us that this is the image that they want girls to see.” SPARK has organized tens of thousands in protesting the new line.

The line does include Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop and Heartlake Vet. The parents can of course chose any number of sets of blocks for the female figures — the whole concept of LEGO is that they are interchangeable.

While LEGO has introduced more professional options for these figures, SPARK insists that it is not enough. They still object to the availability of the other items like the beauty parlor:

These kinds of toys aren’t what girls want, they’re what girls are told they should want: feminine, frilly activities with little need for building and more focus on the Lego “Ladyfigs” looking so super cute in their hot tubs, singing in what appears to be a nightclub and driving around in a convertible.

As the father of three boys and a girl, I have to disagree. I have previously written that Leslie and I have found strong gender preferences in toys and games distinguishing our kids. We have raised our kids without any preconceptions and Madie tends to play as roughly as the boys. However, she has always tended to favor classic girl pursuits from cooking sets to beauty parlors. Likewise, as I have discussed in prior columns (here and here), the boys have tended to favor toy guns and war games. I have observed the same tendency in other families, liberal and conservative.

Studies have confirmed differences in how men and women think and learn as well as other differences. Is it so difficult to believe that these differences would extend to the play and preferences of children?

The important thing is that not only does the company offer professional sets for girls but parents can buy any sets to suit their preferences. However, I do not see why girls should not be allowed to buy the beauty parlor or other sets that are designed for girls. This seems to me to be more about the parents’ idea of fun than the kids.

What do you think?

Source: Hot Air

37 thoughts on “Sexist Legos? Feminist Group Denounces Lego For LadyFigs”

  1. The subsequent time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I do know it was my option to read, but I really thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you might repair if you happen to werent too busy looking for attention.

  2. “From the get-go, the Lego Friends were met with a not-so-friendly response. The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals called the line “devoid of imagination,” and said it would “promote overt forms of sexism.” US News offered “5 Reasons Not to Buy Your Daughter Pink Legos.” In Time, Ruth Davis Konigsburg bemoaned that “With its emphasis on physical appearance and limited career choices — [is it] really any different from that of Disney’s princesses?” She continued, noting how the Friends sets require the barest of construction, “LEGO Friends doesn’t give girls the same sense of mastery and accomplishment that it gives boys.”

    So it’s a hopeful sign that on Friday, members of SPARK (Sexualization Protest Action Resistance Knowledge) are sitting down for a meeting with Lego executives. The goal, as SPARK optimistically explains, is that “We want [Lego] to commit to dramatically increasing the female characters in their non-Friends lines. (The current numbers are pretty dismal.) We want them to consider female representation when choosing pre-existing material to adapt into new toys. And we want them to improve the Friends line.”

    It’s a bold hope, especially when Lego reports that Friends line is “off to a very strong start” just the way it is. But it would be wise for a company founded nearly 50 years ago with the imperative to create toys for “girls and for boys” to remember that goal doesn’t mean “girl toys and boy toys.” We don’t need to ostracize our sons and daughters to the divergent wildernesses of ninja land and beauty parlors.” Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon.

  3. Lego to Meet With Feminist Parents, As Conservatives Defend Toy Line
    By Alyssa Rosenberg on Apr 23, 2012

    In December, Lego expanded its MinFigs line — its slightly more realistic line of toys — to include a range of female characters. The company made a real effort to make the toys, dubbed Lego Friends, multi-cultural (they brought in a range of consultants from different countries). But two aspects of the new toys made waves. First, the Lego Friends have the curvy bodies of women who have been through puberty, rather than the undifferentiated bodies of young girls or the blocky, sexless bodies of traditional Lego figurines. And second, the world the Lego Friends live in has a slight bias towards traditionally girly occupations and activities—the beauticians and bakers outnumber the inventor.

    Those two factors have produced enough of a backlash that Lego has agreed to meet with a group of petitioners troubled by the figures. And that, unsurprisingly, is setting off conservatives who see those petitioners as in willful denial about differences between the sexes. Via Fox News:

    Dr. Leonard Sax, author of “Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences,” said gender differences are natural, and that while some girls may prefer traditional LEGOs, there is nothing wrong with the company offering what it sees as a girl-friendly version. According to Sax, even animals in the wild show differences along gender lines from the earliest ages.

    “These particular women’s groups are disconnected from reality in their desire to promote the idea that these gender differences are taught by the patriarchy or through socialization,” Sax, who also authored “Boys Adrift” and “Girls on the Edge,” told “The sexualization of children is indeed an important issue, but this is not a part of that.”

    I’m of two minds about this. I see precisely nothing wrong with toy lines for girls that include figures performing traditionally female occupations or activities, as well as options that show them performing more gender-specific roles. There’s nothing wrong with being pretty, or spending time on your hair or clothes, or baking. The problem is the idea that those kinds of activities and preferences are mandatory, or the only option for girls. I’d never want to teach my theoretical daughter that being pretty is the only way to be strong, nor, if she turned out to lean girly, that such interests were in some way incompatible with being a scientist or an elected official.

    I’m more sympathetic to the complaint about the fact that the figures are shown as curvy rather than pre-pubescent or simply in the standard Lego body. The Minifigure line preserves the toys bodies in the original Lego mold, rather than giving male figures broader shoulders or any other sign of sexual maturity. You don’t actually need those signs of manhood in order to represent a Star Wars Storm Trooper any more than you need breasts to bake a cake. But giving the Lego Friends breasts and adult bodies is following the trend of toys for girls, whether it’s Barbie, who has always been a teenager or orlder, or the Bratz dolls, who make up what they lack in noses in womanly curves. I agree with conservatives that parents should have choices about what kind of depictions of womanhood they want their children to get from their toys, and at what stages. I agree with liberals, though, that Lego could have sailed against the prevailing trend in girls’ toys and offered parents a choice of toys aimed at girls that are less expensive than the American Girl dolls, and that don’t look like they’ve gone through puberty.

  4. I grew up with only sisters. When I was a kid I played with dolls, which I liked, but I couldn’t wait to go to my cousins’ house to play with their chemistry sets, race cars, electric guitars. Those were REALLY fun. When I was 14, my oldest sister’s boyfriend gave me a Heathkit, which I played with all summer.

    Still, the toys weren’t as limiting as the books for girls. I loved Anne of Green Gables until she grew up and became as boring and constricted as the adults she railed against as a child.

    So, yeah. I find this sad. The choices are limiting. Uninspired, and confining. And worst – polarizing. I was disheartened when I saw this months ago, because I thought Lego was the “smart” one.

    And then there’s the stupid colours. The all pervasive pink and purple have now crept into adult women’s fashions, and a few years ago when I went shopping for running shoes, I couldn’t find a pair that weren’t in those 2 ugly colours. I cringe every time I put my black and hot pink shoes on at the gym. At least when I was a kid, we were still allowed allowed all the colours.

    Kids of both genders should be dreaming big and wide.

  5. I’ll enter that writing contest:

    God, we’re royally screwed. Why !!!

  6. Thanks for your article.
    I appreciate the balance of political vs personal experience.
    As a Lego fan, sure I’d like to see Lego introduce a greater range of themes in regular minifig size that might just bring in more female fans (fairies anyone). But I also like Friends sets. The figures are ok, but if they eventually go missing no-one would mind as the sets are regular minifig size as well.

  7. To give handjobs to the Lego Men obviously and carry beer to them.

    Like duh.

  8. junctionshamus 1, April 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    @Dredd –

    “Author Greg Baxter once made a comment:

    ‘I sometimes feel one drink away from whatever makes a dog hump women’s legs’”


    – And Mel Gibson’s been credited with this… Sounds so much more intelligent when Mr. Baxter says it.
    Yep, as I mentioned to Mike A up-thread, folklore mutates, even into the Queen’s english:

    A university creative writing class was asked to write a concise essay containing the following elements:

    1. Religion
    2. Royalty
    3. Sex
    4. Mystery

    The prize-winning essay read:

    ‘My God,” said the Queen, “I’m pregnant. I wonder who did it!”

    Ah yes, writing, it is not just for the long winded anymore. 😉

  9. @Dredd –

    “Author Greg Baxter once made a comment:

    ‘I sometimes feel one drink away from whatever makes a dog hump women’s legs’”


    – And Mel Gibson’s been credited with this… Sounds so much more intelligent when Mr. Baxter says it.

    Sorry, couldn’t pass up the opp.

    And in regard to Darren Smith’s comment “Math is Hard,” One of my favorite “Demotivational” posters is girl with her head on the blackboard, frustrated with a math problem. The caption reads, “F*** this S***, I’ll be a stripper.”


  10. “Modern feminism insane.”

    Antimenism isn’t feminism. MS (not Ms.) said it best.

    BTW, my daughter was so embarrassed at her Girl Scout’s Father-Daughter dance when someone noticed her face had a smudge. She hadn’t quite washed off all the camo from her morning turkey hunt.

    Both my daughters liked pink and frilly stuff and collected and played with dolls. Both are were little Annie Oaklies and could outshoot any boy around. .

  11. What the heck are they complaining about…..Now the LGBT has toys to play with too….

  12. “They have little breasts and fancy hair” If that is SPARKS complaint I would hope they go after Tiaras and toddlers and kiddie beauty pageants.
    Girls do have little bosoms and fancy hair (sometimes). Go after what doesnt matter helps diminish the legitimate issues of gender discrimination and forced gender roles.

  13. Related:

    In Salon, one of their strongest feminist voices is Tracy Clarke-Flory, now 28. For years at Broadsheet she was one of the feminists scolds, telling us how evil men were, and sexist everything was, how oppressed, she as a highly educated white woman in good health in her early 20s was.

    Rape culture this, and male gaze that.

    A year ago, or so, they fired most of the bints at Broadsheet because the rag was just bleeding money.

    Tracy went on to become their sex writer.

    Over the past year, she’s become known for putting out a constant flow of “wow I was so ignorant about sexual practice X” and “sex turns out to be really groovy” columns and “this weird sexual practice is fucking great” posts.

    So last Friday at the “elderly” age of 28 she writes:

    “In the past, I’d always written off the cliché of the woman in her late 20s or early 30s with a “ticking biological clock” as a sexist trope. Now I find myself reconsidering and wondering how real it is, and why it is.”

    So feminist warrior Flory has discovered that sex is good, and now she wants a babies and hears her biological clock thumping away.

    War is stupid. Modern feminism insane.

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