Lego for Girls


I read a knee-jerk reaction today by someone horrified by the fact that Legos has special editions for girls. The assumption is that girls and boys should be treated the same, and like the same things. Also implied: toys and other items should not restrict us at an early age to gender-specific stereotypes. Reading into it, there was an underlying indication that girls should get toys created with boys in mind, and be happy with those. The boy versions having a sort of superiority, whereas the girl versions are condescending. The driving thought being that ignoring gender differences will break down those stereotypes.

Well okay, well-intentioned thoughts. But a counter-point of course is that males and females develop differently, at a different pace, with instinctively different interests. To this point humans are no different than other species inhabiting the planet – males and female assume different roles. It’s how we evolved, and how we survive. Creating unisex toys (or clothing, or whatever) can repress those instinctive traits, as opposed to celebrate that diversity.

This is a tough topic to approach, because there are in fact some very condescending toys for females, and stereotypical assumptions that girls don’t care about things that girls may actually care about. So yes, some toy manufacturers may be very guilty, and in turn may be a victim of shoddy (and non-visionary) market research practices – that can lead to unhealthy stereotypes and, business-wise, missed opportunities. This problem is certainly not limited to toys or to children. Gender is woefully misunderstood in many fields, across all ages. Lots of products are equally condescending or misdirected. But the answer may not be unisex-products-for-everyone. It may be that gender differences, simply, should be better understood and appropriately celebrated. It’s what makes us different.

- dan formosa