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Pluss ti for tanken, minus noen hundre for gjennomføring

bratzDe “nye” Bratz er her, kan Brio fortelle meg denne uken. Bortsett fra at illustrasjonen er tegnet, og ikke bare et bilde av dukkene, kan jeg ikke si jeg ser noen stor forskjell, men så har jeg heller aldri studert “orginalen” noe særlig inngående. Trutmunn har de i alle fall. Men skal vi tro Brio er de mindre utseendefiksert enn før:

De populære dukkene som tok verden med storm er tilbake, men de er ikke helt som før! De fantastiske Bratz dukkene blir relansert med helt nye verdier og utseende. Make-up’en har blitt nedtonet, og budskapet handler om å være seg selv og å gå sine egne veier!

Helt nye verdier og utseende, faktisk. Og det handler altså om å være seg selv. Og hvordan velger Brio å feire denne revolusjonerende nye filosofien?

Den 5. september inviterer vi derfor alle jenter til «Lekelørdag» i våre BRIO butikker. Der får dere sett de fantastiske, nye Bratz! Vi har en fotovegg og rosa løper slik at jentene kan ta selfies sammen med Bratz – og det vil være en mulighet til å vinne en photoshoot med en profesjonell stylist!

Selfies og photoshoot. Jeje. Rosa løper, dessuten, for det er bare mannlige stjerner (eller skal vi si bare “stjerner”, i motsetning til “kvinnelige stjerner”) som kan gå på rød løper.

Lørdagen er over, og vi unnlot å besøke vår lokale Briobutikk. Jeg kommer vel ikke akkurat til å løpe ut og kjøpe den “nye” Bratz til jentene, heller. Jeg tror det finnes bedre måter å lære dem å være seg selv og gå sine egne veier på.

Screenshot av elendigheten

Screenshot av elendigheten

So what’s wrong with the new Lego Friends series?

Lego recently unveiled a new series aimed at girls: Lego Friends. Lego themselves unashamedly admit they have been marketing to boys for the last twenty or so years, and that now they are targeting the “other 50%”. They’ve redesigned the minifig, creating the minidoll, and have launched 14 sets to start with.

Some people are up in arms about it, some people shrug their shoulders and wonder what the problem is and some people recognise that gendering toys is not neccessarily ideal but why should Lego be the ones to take to the barricades, they need to make money after all?

I’m a bit torn, though leaning toward the “up in arms” faction, and I’ll try to summarise what I think is wrong (and also what I think is right).

Cons:

  • The new minidolls: Firstly, they look like Polly Pocket rip-offs. The fact that they are “curvy” and have “breasts” (yes, they do, not cup size DD mercifully, but still) is problematic for a whole host of reasons, but ok, they’re not too bad as these things go. However: Yes, women have breasts. Girls don’t. At last not girls in the target age for these sets. In fact, it’s quite difficult to tell boys and girls apart before puberty if they are wearing “neutral” clothes and hair styles. But I guess these “Friends” are supposed to be grown up? In which case is perhaps having a tree house a bit weird? Mostly they seem a bit confused in terms of age, actually.
  • What I notice though, is the lack of male minidolls. What, the five girls live all alone as humanoids on a planet otherwise inhabited by yellow-skinned, hard-cornered aliens? Where’s Ken?
  • Another point about the new minidolls is that apparently the legs can’t be posed separately and the hands can’t be turned, seriously limiting the number of activities the girls can take part in compared to minifigs (and compared to Playmo figures, for example, whose hands can turn when they need to hold the handlebars of a bike). This is both Not Good because it limits play and Not Good because it feeds into this whole “girls should be watchers rather than participators” thing, though I’m (reasonably) sure the latter wasn’t what the designers intended and it’s just a “natural” limitation in the way they are designed. (Natural, but not unavoidable, I’d say.)
  • The colours: Yes, little girls like pink (this is – overwhelming evidence suggests – because they’ve been conditioned to like pink, but still, they do). And the colours as such aren’t a problem on their own, except in as much as “normal” colours are missing from the series. Unless your neighbourhood has been painted pink as a stunt from Mattell (yes, it happened, google it) you are unlikely to find a whole community made up of pastel-coloured houses. The idea that lego bricks have to be pastel coloured for girls to play with them is ridiculous.
  • The set themes: I’ll give Lego credit for the Inventor’s Workshop and, grudgingly, for the tree house, but they are a bit like the token minority actor in a sitcom: Including one black character doesn’t make your show “not racist”. The sets are overwhelmingly embarrasingly stereotypishly “girly” and this is Not Good.
  • Talking about “not racist”, the five friends include the token minority characters. Naturally. Hang on, I went back to have a better look at them. I assumed Emma was supposed to be generic-asian and Andrea was supposed to be generic-of-african-decent, but now I see they both have green eyes. That’s just weird.
  • What do you mean “the other 50%”? Has it escaped your attention that girls already play with legoes? Not all girls, by any means, but do ALL boys play with legoes?
  • If you’re a boy and you would like a beauty parlour set (or a tree house, for fuck’s sake), are you allowed to buy one? Ok, no matter how it was packaged I imagine some parents would balk at buying a beauty parlour for their son, unfortunately, but if it was just another Lego City set wouldn’t the chance have been greater? Even keeping the Friends series but adding a few male mindolls and NOT trumpeting “Lego for GIRLS! FINALLY!” would be a huge step in the right direction.
  • Following on from that: If you sell a girl a beauty parlour in the Lego City series, perhaps the next thing she wants is the hospital. And then the police station. And then the construction sets so that she can pretend to build more beauty parlours (if you insist, though I’d rather build a mad scientist laboratory or something). Wasn’t “selling more Lego” your goal, or have I misunderstood?
  • Once upon a time Lego was marketed to “kids”. What happened?

lego_pride

 

Pros:

  • I quite like the minidolls to be honest. Yes, there are major issues with WHY they were designed at all, but I quite like the result (except for the lack of mobility). I hope they realise quite quickly that they need to include some male characters as well, though.
  • New sets. More parts being made in  more colours. Yay! And the diner is quite nice.
  • Uhm. That’s it.

So. I think we’ll call it a FAIL. Which doesn’t mean the lass might not end up with some of these sets, in among all the other Lego (Toy Story Lego has been a favourite with both mother and daughter so far, and she LOVES Cars).

Male is default

Male is the default; female is exceptional.

Case in point:

The lass has pink clothes. Probably more than I would ideally have chosen, in fact, because I’m not that fond of pink myself. However, most of her clothes are colours that I consider gender neutral (but then, to me, gender neutral is pretty much everything except pink and baby blue), or at least not pink-on-pink, but say, pink and brown, pink and grey and so on. Hence – which follows from the above theory – she is continually taken for a boy. Today she wore

  • jeans (very “girly” pattern in silver on the back pockets, but quite plain otherwise)
  • red and silver trainers
  • long-sleeved t-shirt in yellow, green and red

Both the IKEA employee who was running a “fairground” where the kids got to throw tiny softies at a target for the chance to win a big softie (for free, everyone got a prize, did I mention I love IKEA?) and a mother with a daughter (ok, now I’m doing the assuming, but the kid wore all pink from head to toe) a little younger than the lass automatically referred to her as “he” and “the boy”.

Why? Why when everyone knows about half the kids you meet are going to be female is “male” still default unless you shout your gender from the rooftops by wearing pink-pinkety-pink? What the f*** are we teaching these kids? When did this start applying to toddlers and not just babies (come to think of it, when did it start applying to babies)? I’m the daughter of a feminist, and wore practically no pink as a child, did everyone assume I was a boy, or were they more practically minded in the 70ies?

Disclaimer: I don’t “mind” the lass being taken for a boy, as such. It doesn’t matter on a personal, individual level, I’m just worried about what it says about our society’s expectations for girls (and boys).

The irony? I haven’t been extremely opposed to pink so far. I have even purchased a few pink-and-princessy garments for her myself. But because I am now continually made aware of how much “people” read into the pink/not-pink choice, I am getting to the stage where I might just ban pink from the house. Just when the lass is getting to an age where she might actually start caring.

Mind you. Perhaps that is just the point in time where it is important to start introducing rules and not just go with the flow?