THE SANTA CLARA
February 18, 2016
Lego’s attempt to promote gender equality through their development of pastel colored legos for girls is insulting.
Of course, inclusiveness is an attractive idea. But I would rather play with blue legos than be given pastel ones out of pity.
What happens if a little girl prefers the color blue to the color pink? Obviously not every girl’s favorite color is lavender or bubblegum pink.
Because of toys like Legos, sexism is internalized at an unsettlingly young age. A girl’s femininity is unknowingly compromised when she chooses to build the jungle themed kit to the mall themed one.
A poor girl can’t play with her Legos without some social construction looming over her, defining her as unfeminine because of a simple decision.
The repercussions of Lego’s lame attempt to sell pastel Legos for girls runs far beyond a young girl’s color preference.
The original Lego colors are blue, red and yellow—what we know to be the primary colors.
Since Legos are used for building, they were naturally marketed as a male toy.
Now, to broaden their market, Legos decided it had to change the color scheme if they wanted to attract more female customers, as if girls didn’t already play with Legos.
Of course, females and males can decide to play with either color, but how each set is marketed to consumers seems to suggest otherwise.
If girls want to play with Legos, they are expected to choose the pastel set, and are seen as tom-boys if they don’t.
Choosing the non-primary colored Legos is choosing a “male” toy. Out of fear of beling like the boys, a young girl will choose the feminine option. Now, no longer do the girls have the same options that the boys do.
Taking away basic decisions like selecting what color they want to play with at such a young age, sets an agenda of inferiority for all of their social interactions.
The problem is not that a girl decides to play with a pink Lego, but that she is expected to.
Legos are perpetuating universal divisions between genders. These divisions imply that you must fit within one or the other, ultimately limiting one’s autonomy and further making gender constructions seemingly inherent.
Essentially, Legos is suggesting that women are an afterthought. We see this pattern seep into all aspects of social interaction.
Why do we have to wait until we are of a certain age to be introduced to ideas such as the fundamental difference between sex and gender and how these social constructions play out in our culture?
Feminist theory and approaches to learning, basic biology and gendered vocabulary, must be intricately interwoven into curriculum the moment a child starts Kindergarten, or even before that.
While more advanced ideas and vocabulary do not need to be introduced until a student is old enough to understand them, issues like color associations, job expectations, learning materials and other concepts that can be socially constructed must be discussed more.
Preschoolers should be given the freedom to choose what they find to be most exciting and most inspiring. Gender is not something that needs to be established for the individual.
These concepts are challenging and not as straightforward as we would like them to be, but we must be more open to the unknown.
Realistically, gender constructs are not going to vanish after a few informed conversations, but pretending like they are not an issue will solve even less.
There is no reason to market pastel colors towards girls and dark colors towards boys. Each child is capable of choosing for him or herself. We can give up some control, and allow people to be different from our own expectations and ideals.
When children are introduced to these fixed ideas at such young ages, it is unlikely they will have the opportunity or even the desire to change what they think about their gender in relation to others.
We can’t be so sure that we are moving towards a world where gender equality exists, when we still expect young girls and boys to play with specific colored toys based off of their gender.
Lindsey Mandell is a sophomore English and psychology major and is editor of the Opinion Section.
Articles in the opinion section represent the views of the individual authors only and not the views of The Santa Clara or Santa Clara University.