Building Gender Stereotypes

There’s a particular kind of story one reads occasionally, making fun of the worst excesses of political correctness.? But this entry is about the other extreme-a toy manufacturer so far in the dark ages that even Don Draper might snicker.? I’m told that the latest craze among the toddler set is Lego Minifigures-little people to inhabit the recently-built creations of your own little person.? I’ve been looking forward to the day I can build Lego houses with?my daughter.? But we won’t be playing with these Minifigures.? You see, there are sixteen characters in the set, but only two are female.? That’s the sort of gender ratio you see at a typical economics conference, but even we economists know that we need to do better.? But the lesson that Lego leaves for impressionable minds is even worse.? The two female characters are a?cheerleader and a?nurse. Even on Mad Men,?Peggy Olson rose to copywriter.

While I’m not one to believe that I need to bring up my daughter in a complete cocoon of political correctness, this is ridiculous.? Even?Barbie stopped sayingMath class is tough” eighteen years ago.? But political correctness isn’t entirely lost on the folks at Lego: they include a cowboy, paired with… a “tribal hunter,” which at least puts them?ahead of a certain?Cleveland baseball team.

(Hat tip:?Jessica Reyes, whose daughter Sarah resolved the issue by swapping out the girl heads for boy heads.)

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  1. Tim says:

    Don’t like them? Don’t buy them. Problem solved.

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  2. Yasha says:

    Yes, clearly the Lego castle sets should have more courtesans, nursemaids, and serving wenches to balance out the palace guard. Good grief.

    Then again, for a guy who can’t even bring himself to say he has a wife, not a huge surprise.

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  3. Yosh says:

    Doesn’t it seem more likely that Lego mostly sells to young boys and they’re following their market? What 7 year old boy wants to buy a space set with an equally balanced gender ratio? He’d just throw the female characters away.

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  4. D says:

    Does that ratio correspond in some way to the ratio of kids who naturally play with these lego toys? I would think so. If so, wouldn’t your complaint be like asking toy car companies to make more pink, light purple, yellow, rainbow colored and cars with flowers painted on the doors, even though it is boys who freely choose to play with these cars at much higher rates than girls freely choose?

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  5. D says:

    PC irony here.

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  6. E says:

    @yosh and @D – sure, it may correspond to the ratio of who is buying legos, but do we still need to teach that only nurses and cheerleaders are appropriate female figures? Seems extreme.

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  7. Eric M. Jones says:

    Yes, but many of the male figures are gay. So there’s been some progress.

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  8. Quill says:

    LEGO’s emphasis has changed dramatically over the years.

    Compare a girl-focused ad from 30 years ago: http://classic.feministing.com/archives/019627.html

    To contemporary marketing: http://belville.lego.com/en-US/default.aspx

    The media we expose our children teaches them how to live. Lego, for whatever reason, has abandoned teaching children to build and experiment and now teaches them to wear pink and ride ponies.

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