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Disclaimer: This is not an attempt to say that LEGO does not produce any gender neutral themes. Architecture and Creator are consistently gender neutral. City and Collectible Minifigures are largely gender neutral. Such themes exist. More themes should be as inclusive. Question: What do you think of the way LEGO markets their non-licensed themes to boys and girls? My answer: I don't like it. I think they are focusing too much on targeting girls and boys individually, rather than producing more gender neutral themes. My example: 2 LEGO themes in the past 2 years that serve as 2 sides of the same coin. Take the concept of Medieval Fantasy. Let's market "fantasy" to girls. We'll have cutesy woodland creatures with pretty designs on their faces, a bakery, a school, a pretty pegasus, and lots of bright pink and lavender colors. It will feature friendship and nature, and the characters will all be Elves. We'll use minidolls instead of minifigures. We'll call it "Elves." Let's market "fantasy" to boys. We'll have scary wacky lava monsters with a creepy goofy jester, oversized weapons, a castle that's a tank, a robot horse, and lots of transparent neon red orange and baby blue colors. It will feature combat and technology, and the characters will all be Knights. We'll use large figures and various monsters. We'll call it "Nexo Knights." Personally, I think that both are successful ideas within those narrow markets. I don't think LEGO would have made such sets if they hadn't done extensive market research on young girls (in the case of Elves) and young boys (in the case of Nexo Knights). But how many young girls would like Nexo Knights? How many young boys would like Elves? Did they have both genders in their focus groups? There are lots of kids (and teens, and adults) who prefer gender neutral ideas. By splitting the concept of medieval fantasy into two diametrically opposed versions, each catering to a traditional gender role, they have lost anything that lies between. Things feel like they've been pushed in either direction, leaving very little overlap. I would like to see LEGO create a new theme with sets that capture the best of the above, engaging both girls and boys at the same time. It could be a "fantasy" theme that lies between the Elves and Nexo Knights themes. So let's have woodland creatures and lava monsters, let's have Knights and Elves, all in one theme. Let's have Castles that aren't built with a single gender in mind, and let's have a good variety of colors that can appeal to a wide base of fans. I think that would be great, and I'm sure there are many others around the world who would love it as well. Another Example: I have young nieces within the age range of most LEGO products. The oldest niece is around 9, and was talking about how much she liked the cool ninjas in Ninjago sets. She specifically talked about how much she liked the Temple of Airjitzu. Then, she looked a bit sad and said "but it's for boys." I don't think that LEGO should really be for boys or girls, it should be for boys and girls. I wish my niece, and other girls like her, didn't feel compelled to avoid what they see as sets 'for boys' and gravitate towards sets 'for girls.' Boy sets have lots of weapons, ninjas, and knights, while girl sets have juice bars, malls, and hotels. In marketing and advertising, only girls are ever seen playing with Friends sets, while only boys are ever playing with Ninjago. It would be great to show girls playing with the ninja sets as well, and to help that, maybe there should be more female characters in those sets. And the same could be said about boys and sets like the recording studio. There is a definite disparity in gender throughout the LEGO catalog. In sets geared towards boys, there are very few girls, and they are usually some sort of nobility, or peripheral and unimportant. Even when there is a female knight, she is a princess, and the only female on the team. In sets geared towards girls, there are very few boys, and they are usually fathers or romantic interests. Even when there is a male friend, he is focused on paying attention to the female characters as a photographer, worker, or nurturer. Also, the Collectible Minifigures (arguably one of the better themes in this regard) always have a skewed gender ratio that favors males over females. I feel that their current marketing teaches a negative lesson to young children about gender norms and stereotypes. I appreciate what they are trying to do in drawing in more female fans, but I feel that they are going too far in the opposite direction with their female themes. It would have been better to incorporate female characters and sensibilities into the themes they already had in order to cultivate more positive gender relations and images. More questions: Can you think of other instances where LEGO has targeted a specific gender, and if so, how do you think it has had an impact (either positive or negative)? Obviously Friends is made specifically for girls, which introduced the minidoll seen in Disney Pricesses and Elves. Do you think that this approach is a good one? While targeting boys and girls specifically may be good for LEGO as a business, is it good for fostering positive gender images, or does it just reinforce the status quo of gender norms? Do you feel that LEGO has any kind of social responsibility in this area as the world's largest manufacturer of children's toys? Do you think that girls should be relegated to doing 'girly' things, and that boys should be relegated to doing 'boyish' things? Do you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing? Anyways, I thought this might make for an interesting discussion. I don't think that anything said here will change the way LEGO does business, as they seem perfectly happy with their current approach, and they aren't likely to take the opinions of some AFOL's to heart. I hope I've expressed myself the way I had intended, and that I haven't rambled on and lost the attention of the readers. I just had some thoughts about this, and wanted to hear some of yours.
williejm posted a topic in General LEGO DiscussionThis article raises a lot of concerns I have with female minifigure representation. Yay @ more females, Boo@ too much narrow manifestation of gender specificity http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/16/lego-female-scientists-waistlines_n_5590560.html It's a play issue as much as it is a representation one, in that 'femaled' hourglass torsos have a more limited use, but it's also about what makes it female. Old cartoons suggest blush cheeks, big eyelashes and a bow in the hair made any character female. Even Chima figures which are anthropomorphised animals have 'hourglass' figures for females, the Collectable Minifig Alien Queen had lipstick to go with her see-through head, and don't even get me started on the 'Lady Robot' and her breast dials...
legoman19892 posted a topic in General LEGO Discussionhttp://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/an-elementary-class-studied-600-lego-sets-what-they-found-has-gotten-legos An article posted on June 12. It is a good read if you are into LEGO making more diverse minifigs. I happen to like it because I grew up in Madison, WI.
LukeWarmTea posted a topic in General LEGO DiscussionAward winning NZ scientist Siouxsie Wiles wrote a short open letter to TLC on her website: http://sciblogs.co.n...letter-to-lego/ asking if TLC could again address the gender imbalance issues in their products, this time CMFs, and proposes an hitherto unthought of solution. It hit NZ current affairs mag http://www.listener....-are-the-women/ and I wonder if it will spread? My query is - what do you (as an AFOL or PFOL or whatever) think of the idea of two faced minifigs, with female on one side and male on the other? Personally I think if it is restricted to non-licensed themes and just appears in the CMF series then bring it on! But I would feel strange picking up a Batman that could turn into a Batwoman, and I'm not sure how it would work in classic themes like City - surely just a better representation of women (with better facial expressions) would suffice? Edited: A word.