Feminism/Sexism and Gaming/Geek/Popular culture Catch All

Garden Ninja wrote:

To follow up on the Lego conversation from the beginning of the thread, my cousin posted this to facebook this morning. Interesting read, and I'm glad Lego is thinking about the issue.

I agree. But I'm also glad my daughter never realized that Lego was ignoring her with their Harry Potter, LOtR, and Star Wars sets.

FWIW, I like the ladyfigs. Being that the LOTR and Star Wars sets are character driven, I think LEGO should have done those in Friends styles rather than the usual.

Garden Ninja wrote:

To follow up on the Lego conversation from the beginning of the thread, my cousin posted this to facebook this morning. Interesting read, and I'm glad Lego is thinking about the issue.

It's nothing new though, just a report on Lego Friends, which basically creates a segregated, gender-role perpetuating, girls-only version of Lego City.

From SommerMatt's post on the first page:

Stengah wrote:
Garden Ninja wrote:

To follow up on the Lego conversation from the beginning of the thread, my cousin posted this to facebook this morning. Interesting read, and I'm glad Lego is thinking about the issue.

It's nothing new though, just a report on Lego Friends, which basically creates a segregated, gender-role perpetuating, girls-only version of Lego City.

So, I haven't had time to watch those videos, but how are "normal" Lego city sets gendered at all? They're just... buildings, cars, things? Why would a female child not like to build normal things with Legos?

They're certainly cashing in on the princess garbage too, but I don't see an actual gap in non-princess Legos.

That's the part where I think Sarkeesian is seeing something that just isn't there. I never thought of the mini figs as being excessively gendered, and both my sister and I played with the City sets no prob. Does it have it to be pink for it to be okay for a girl to play with it?

I had thought the article just came out, so I didn't realize / remember that the videos were referencing the same line. So the article is more of a lead in, than a follow up to those discussion on the videos, I suppose.

The basic thrust of the article, is that most of the stuff we discussed when this first came up (Are mini-figs male by default? Is "Pink = Girly" condescending?, What is gender specific about e.g. the City line?, etc), it doesn't matter because young girls think legos are for boys, and they don't play the same way that boys do. Not hypothetical future children who are immune to gender messaging. Actual children. Sure, messaging needs to change, but that is a long term goal. What I got from the article is that Lego Friends is a short term step towards that goal. Sort of a gateway toy, if you will.

The Article, on pg. 4 wrote:

The Lego Friends team is aware of the paradox at the heart of its work: To break down old stereotypes about how girls play, it risks reinforcing others. “If it takes color-coding or ponies and hairdressers to get girls playing with Lego, I’ll put up with it, at least for now, because it’s just so good for little girls’ brains,” says Lise Eliot. A neuroscientist at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, Eliot is the author of Pink Brain Blue Brain, a 2009 survey of hundreds of scientific papers on gender differences in children. “Especially on television, the advertising explicitly shows who should be playing with a toy, and kids pick up on those cues,” Eliot says. “There is no reason to think Lego is more intrinsically appealing to boys.”

Whether it will be successful, I don't know. Sarkeesian's response seems to be that Lego is missing the point, or tone deaf or whatever, and having read the article, I don't think that's fair.

The strongest gender messaging girls get are from their parents. Arguably, the ONLY messaging girls should be getting are from their parents. If young girls are getting the message that gender neutral toys are for boys, it's because their parents are sending them that message, or have left the shop untended and let bad media do so.

gore wrote:
Stengah wrote:
Garden Ninja wrote:

To follow up on the Lego conversation from the beginning of the thread, my cousin posted this to facebook this morning. Interesting read, and I'm glad Lego is thinking about the issue.

It's nothing new though, just a report on Lego Friends, which basically creates a segregated, gender-role perpetuating, girls-only version of Lego City.

So, I haven't had time to watch those videos, but how are "normal" Lego city sets gendered at all? They're just... buildings, cars, things? Why would a female child not like to build normal things with Legos?

Most of that came from the marketing, where it was dads and sons playing with Legos instead of moms and sons, moms and daughters, or dads and daughters.

I was almost caught up on this thread when my daughter told me she set up a spot for us to play Play Doh. Took me a minute before I smiled at the symmetry.

Just thought I'd share.

Stengah wrote:

Most of that came from the marketing, where it was dads and sons playing with Legos instead of moms and sons, moms and daughters, or dads and daughters.

Well that's just stupid (from a business perspective especially).

This makes me ponder an interesting tangent - we don't watch TV with commercials. None. Nada. The daughter is still too young for TV (well, outside of an occasional emergency Elmo distraction), but I don't intend to provide her with a way to watch TV with commercials either. It's all Netflix or Amazon streaming, with a few things I record from OTA (but with the commercials stripped out automatically by my DVR software).

I know advertising to children is a huge problem, and not just from a sexism perspective - it's terrible for e.g. obesity as well.

It occurs to me that we've now got tools to evade advertising, at least with TV, so perhaps any negative effects from it will be mitigated. And print is dead except for old people, so no real worries about magazines. Maybe the problem just shifts to the web - but then, there's adblock and friends...

Oh wow, look, people disagreeing with her without calling her a whore that deserves to have various crimes committed to her! Why, it's the kind of mature, reasonable discussion that should've happened in the first place.

If most lego really is gender neutral then it should literally cost them nothing to amend their advertising to make such neutrality explicit.

I would imagine that most commonly in the absence of other cues people (esp. kids) will read toys as gendered based on the default that's applicable for that class of toys. Lego is a building toy and I'd put good money on kids reading building toys as boys toys.

It's easy for us as, somewhat, reflective adults to choose not to read toys and packaging as gendered where it's not explicit because we're conscious of these issues. But we're not 3 or 4 year olds who are actively trying to absorb, learn and systematise how the world works. Last time I checked small kids are not renowned for their nuance and grey scale thinking

DanB wrote:

I would imagine that most commonly in the absence of other cues people (esp. kids) will read toys as gendered based on the default that's applicable for that class of toys. Lego is a building toy and I'd put good money on kids reading building toys as boys toys.

It's easy for us as, somewhat, reflective adults to choose not to read toys and packaging as gendered where it's not explicit because we're conscious of these issues. But we're not 3 or 4 year olds who are actively trying to absorb, learn and systematise how the world works. Last time I checked small kids are not renowned for their nuance and grey scale thinking

The opposite dynamic is at play, too. Kids aren't born knowing that boys build and girls play house. A lot of this comes from adults understanding and (unwittingly, even unconsciously) communicating the coding in what they choose to buy kids and in their reactions to different kids wanting to play with different toys. (E.g., a "typical dad" reaction to a boy wanting to play with dolls.)

You're right that, as adults, we have the self-awareness to change our behavior. (Mostly.) And after kids are socialized a little, the ideas acquire their own inertia, as kids' assumptions grow more ingrained and as they get ideas from other kids. (If I bought my 9-year-old nephew an American Girl doll, he...wouldn't appreciate it. My 8-yo daughter insisted on it.) But a lot of what gets the ball rolling is parents' own gender biases, IMO.

It's complicated. There are lots of ways messages get reinforced.

pgroce wrote:

You're right that, as adults, we have the self-awareness to change our behavior. (Mostly.) And after kids are socialized a little, the ideas acquire their own inertia, as kids' assumptions grow more ingrained and as they get ideas from other kids. (If I bought my 9-year-old nephew an American Girl doll, he...wouldn't appreciate it. My 8-yo daughter insisted on it.) But a lot of what gets the ball rolling is parents' own gender biases, IMO.

No one polices gender roles quite as fervently as a 5 year old

DanB wrote:

I would imagine that most commonly in the absence of other cues people (esp. kids) will read toys as gendered based on the default that's applicable for that class of toys. Lego is a building toy and I'd put good money on kids reading building toys as boys toys.

If kids learn that building toys are boys' toys, it's because parents and caregivers are feeding these messages to kids, and because kids are feeding these messages to their peers.

Ultimately, adults control the messaging, and it's a copout to shrug your shoulders and say "kids will be kids!" This is like a virus, though; parents can only directly control their own messaging, while the peer pressure and influence of other adults is insidious and difficult to fight (short of packing it up and becoming a hermit).

It seems to me that the best option is to be cooler and more interesting to your kids than their peers, so you can tell them that their peers are full of sh*t and they'll believe you. I'm unclear on how to implement this plan, though...

gore wrote:
DanB wrote:

I would imagine that most commonly in the absence of other cues people (esp. kids) will read toys as gendered based on the default that's applicable for that class of toys. Lego is a building toy and I'd put good money on kids reading building toys as boys toys.

If kids learn that building toys are boys' toys, it's because parents and caregivers are feeding these messages to kids, and because kids are feeding these messages to their peers.

I would have to disagree with this. Have you walked in a toy store this Holiday Season? If your kids have been with you are seen any store that sells Legos, they will see themselves... all the City stuff is in the red and black boys isle and all the Friends line are in the pink and purple girls isle.

It is 100 percent segregated. I am not sure how past the age of 2, you can convince your son or daughter that the other isle is where they are supposed to shop. Even if you were trying as parent.

Cheeto1016 wrote:
gore wrote:
DanB wrote:

I would imagine that most commonly in the absence of other cues people (esp. kids) will read toys as gendered based on the default that's applicable for that class of toys. Lego is a building toy and I'd put good money on kids reading building toys as boys toys.

If kids learn that building toys are boys' toys, it's because parents and caregivers are feeding these messages to kids, and because kids are feeding these messages to their peers.

I would have to disagree with this. Have you walked in a toy store this Holiday Season? If your kids have been with you are seen any store that sells Legos, they will see themselves... all the City stuff is in the red and black boys isle and all the Friends line are in the pink and purple girls isle.

It is 100 percent segregated. I am not sure how past the age of 2, you can convince your son or daughter that the other isle is where they are supposed to shop. Even if you were trying as parent.

Increasingly, I've been seeing Legos in my local stores grouped with other products of the same branding (i.e. the new LOTR Legos are with the toys for the Hobbit; the Star Wars Legos are with the lightsabers and action figures), etc... while you would hope this would have the effect of having it all be neutral, when those sections are generally lumped in with action figures and toy blasters/lightsabers/whatever... it still ends up basically being the boy section and the girl section is like 2 aisles down from the Legos that aren't girl specific.

Year in geek misogyny review:
http://www.dailydot.com/society/rape...

gore wrote:
DanB wrote:

I would imagine that most commonly in the absence of other cues people (esp. kids) will read toys as gendered based on the default that's applicable for that class of toys. Lego is a building toy and I'd put good money on kids reading building toys as boys toys.

If kids learn that building toys are boys' toys, it's because parents and caregivers are feeding these messages to kids, and because kids are feeding these messages to their peers.

Ultimately, adults control the messaging, and it's a copout to shrug your shoulders and say "kids will be kids!" This like a virus, though; parents can only directly control their own messaging, while the peer pressure and influence of other adults is insidious and difficult to fight (short of packing it up and becoming a hermit).

To me, it seems like the best option is to be cooler and more interesting to your kids than their peers, so you can tell them that their peers are full of sh*t and they'll believe you. I'll let you know how that works out for me in a few years.

It's got nothing to do with "kids will be kids", it's that gendered messages are literally everywhere in our culture it's actually impossible to prevent your children from picking up gendered information whether you like it or not. To say nothing of that fact that kids are "actively" seeking this kind of information because part of what they are trying to do is learn how they are supposed to behave.

Unless you're seriously planning on keeping them in a box there is no way you can control for other kids, peer pressure, children's entertainment, billboards, relatives, teachers, adverts, magazine, toy boxes,. And good luck with "being cooler than their peers".

The best you can really do is to try and model the kind of gendered behaviour you think is good and when they are old enough to handle it then you can equip them with the knowledge to see through the stereotypes.

There is also a fair amount of this that comes from the nature of your child. With my oldest daughter, we gave her neutral toys, and did our damndest to let her decide what she wanted to play with. And then we saw her putting her toy cars to bed. And the wooden spoon. And the toy snake. And then she would pick them up, rock them and "feed" them. Once done, she would burp them, change their diapers and take them for a walk in a stroller.

We stopped fighting it with her after that.

Cheeto1016 wrote:

I would have to disagree with this. Have you walked in a toy store this Holiday Season? If your kids have been with you are seen any store that sells Legos, they will see themselves... all the City stuff is in the red and black boys isle and all the Friends line are in the pink and purple girls isle.

It is 100 percent segregated. I am not sure how past the age of 2, you can convince your son or daughter that the other isle is where they are supposed to shop. Even if you were trying as parent.

I never go to retail outlets except to acquire food, so I can't really say.

My kid is too young for any of this, so this is an honest question to which I do not know the answer: why would you take a child to a toy store?

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yW80q4Yf-8I/UJrzTplSjKI/AAAAAAAAAII/kMzq_2UJ5ZI/s1600/dean-what-gif.gif)

Jayhawker wrote:

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yW80q4Yf-8I/UJrzTplSjKI/AAAAAAAAAII/kMzq_2UJ5ZI/s1600/dean-what-gif.gif)

gore wrote:

My kid is too young for any of this, so this is an honest question to which I do not know the answer: why would you take a child to a toy store?

So they can pick out a toy they want.

Stengah wrote:

gore wrote:

My kid is too young for any of this, so this is an honest question to which I do not know the answer: why would you take a child to a toy store?

So they can pick out a toy they want.

So... all of them?

Slacker1913 wrote:

So they can pick out a toy they want.

But if you're looking to avoid toys which reinforce gender stereotypes, it seems like a toy store is the last place you would want to take a small child, seeing as how it's pretty much guaranteed to have them all over the place. Also, a recipe for either disappointment and/or major expense as the kid wants everything around him or her.

What happens if you just ask the kid what kind of toys he or she wants, and you get them without the kid around?

1) Are you really going to be able to avoid all big box stores (Target, etc.) and department stores with your kid?

2) Kids like going to toy stores, you know...

In unrelated news, I was playing this game called Majesty on my iPad, when the next mission that came up was to "kill the feminist harpies." With some flavor text that boiled down to "They've kidnapped the men of the village until they agree to gender equality. Kill them all!"

Yeah, no thanks. Bye, app.

Demyx wrote:

1) Are you really going to be able to avoid all big box stores (Target, etc.) and department stores with your kid?

I don't know that I could avoid it completely, but it seems like limiting exposure is a good plan. You can avoid all the TV you want, but the second you walk into a toy store you'll get the exact same messaging all over the place. And again, this isn't just about gendered toys, it's also about sugary snacks and all manner of other sneaky crap marketers try to foist on children.

2) Kids like going to toy stores, you know...

Kids like eating paste, too

I guess a better question is whether this is worth going to the mat over. How bad is it to walk into a store chock full of gendered toys and marketing? Is that a formative experience for a child?

I think Sarkeesian is spot on with the critique on the marketing. It's just super weird to me how something as neutral as a ball or a nerf gun would induce stores to cut out half the prospective customer base. Is there really a benefit to that? Must be tapping into some kind of cultural thing.

LarryC wrote:

I think Sarkeesian is spot on with the critique on the marketing. It's just super weird to me how something as neutral as a ball or a nerf gun would induce stores to cut out half the prospective customer base. Is there really a benefit to that? Must be tapping into some kind of cultural thing.

Well shelf/storage space in store is limited. They also want to maximise the number of units sold because mass retail maximises profit principally through turnover. Most stores will have vast amounts of customer purchase data to work with so with limited shelf space it will be optimised to maximise the amount of turnover; don't carry an extra thing just in case a girl wants one, cluster items by gender and theme etc, etc. In light of that, why carry 200 extra boxes of something that your consumer data says girls likely won't buy when you could use that shelf for something you know the demographic will buy instead.