Legos, Spaceships, and Breasts

The lovely Sarah Dunning Park (get her new book of poems!) pointed me to this post from Kate Bachus, which compares a “girl” Lego set with a “boy” Lego set, and talks about her own daughter’s enjoyment of a “boy” Lego set.

It fits nicely with the thin-and-sexy-toys and images theme I’ve been exploring on this blog (starting with the Candy Land post) but takes a slightly different perspective, pointing out how Lego sets marketed for girls don’t offer the same challenges and rigors as those marketed for boys.

The beautiful Lego desk Tim made for our boys for Christmas. It seldom never looks this tidy.

Now, we are a Lego family. My children spend most of their time playing with Lego, which, apart from the highly specific kits, are just about the most open-ended toys I can imagine.

Look, a knight with a pike and a sword IN A SCABBARD–

And, look, it’s a bunch of people looking through binoculars!

and here’s what Kate Bachus saw when she looked at ‘girl Lego’ sets:

“This set has 130 pieces, the majority of which are the doll’s “accessories.”  The construction of the car is limited to simple, large pieces, most of which make up large parts of the car so that it is clearly easier to put together and less assembly – and thought – is required.  This toy is supposed to be for 7-12 year olds, the same age group Lili’s spaceship is.

Also, this isn’t a Lego block person of indeterminate gender. It’s a girl. With big hair. With eyelashes.

And breasts.

Yes, breasts.

Meanwhile, the UFO Invasion Tripod set has 166 pieces, all devoted to the construction of a complex, interesting and fun toy. There are a few traditional Lego figures, and, you know, alien head hats to convert them to aliens.

No accessories. No breasts.

I want you to go to Target. I want you to go to the Lego aisles and just go look at the toys, for a minute.  And think about it. Think about young women who don’t go into science and engineering, even now, who struggle with math for reasons that have nothing to do with their innate intelligence, potential, ability.

I want you to think about how many female engineers you know.

And I want you to get pissed.”

So I’m struggling with how to think of this. I mean, I was not particularly interested in aliens or spaceships as a young girl. If I’d been given a Lego spaceship set as a gift, I’d probably have been disappointed. But how much of that has to do with the fact that I’d already been acculturated to regard such things as ‘boy’ things?

I don’t know what to think, but I do know girls deserve better than this.

Kate Bachus’ daughter assembling Lego.

{Read all of Kate Bachus’ post here.}