As promised, I have a "real" weekend reading post this week. This week's links are all about how men and women (and boys and girls) are treated differently, even when they're doing the same things.
First, in the adult world, here is a really good column about something I missed entirely (because it was in England)- but which makes a general point (that Nicoleandmaggie had also made in their post about the Womanspace fiasco) about how men making a feminist point are treated more respectfully than women making the exact same point.
Next, do you remember the little girl who was bullied at school because she was really into Star Wars, which was supposedly a "boy thing", and how a bunch of adult geeks rallied to her defense? CNN had a follow up on her. She's doing great. Her school has a new anti-bullying policy, and she recently came to the defense of a little boy at a birthday party who wanted his nails painted like the girls. She sounds like an awesome girl.
Finally, those of you who follow me on Twitter already know how I feel about Lego's new initiative to make more "girl-friendly" sets. If your initial reaction is similar to that of the tweet that brought it to my attention- i.e., that all Lego is for girls, I encourage you to (1) read the article before you judge Lego, (2) go look at the Lego sets aimed at ages 5 and up, and (3) wonder why no one raised an eyebrow when Lego decided to skew so "boy" awhile back. Why, when no one questions the existence of the umpteen-million warrior themed Lego sets, are so many people are bothered by the idea of sets with pastel colors and traditionally "girly" things?
Personally, I'm glad they are going to bring out some sets that aren't so aggressively "boy"- otherwise, I am afraid I'll struggle to keep Pumpkin interested in Lego, which is a great toy for stretching spatial reasoning skills and problem solving skills.
To give you an idea of why I think there is a problem now, look at this castle set, which we considered buying for Pumpkin for Christmas:
And tell me what is missing.
In the article, it says that Lego's research showed that boys around the world think that a castle without a dragon is worse than no castle at all. Well, Pumpkin would think that a castle without a princess is not really a castle, and I suspect a lot of other little girls would agree with her.
(Sorry for the Amazon picture above- it was the easiest way to get the picture in, and this month, I'm all about easy.)
We bought her a house set instead. I was annoyed, because she wants a castle for Christmas, but I knew that the Lego one would not be acceptable to her. If that toy was really "unisex" it would have the knight and the dragon and a princess.
I've written before about how I am annoyed by the feeling amongst some feminists that pink and princesses are necessarily bad. My opinion is a bit more subtle. I wouldn't want my daughter to be into princesses to the exclusion of all else, and I'm not thrilled by the fact that Disney seems to be the sole arbiter of what it means to be a princess these days, but I don't think the fact that my daughter is going through a princess phase is a sign of doom, particularly if I can find Lego sets and other "good" toys that work with that interest while also letting her stretch some of the skills that are considered traditionally male (like spatial reasoning). I think this quote from my earlier post sums up my thoughts nicely:
So I guess what I really want is for people to start standing up for the
right of people to be a little bit "male" and a little bit "female"-
mixing things however their interests take them. Let the boys wear pink
and purple if they want, and don't assume that a girl who loves
princesses is not going to kick the world's butt some day.
And, as I said in that earlier post, parents of boys don't get a free pass, either- in some ways, it is harder to let a boy explore all of his interests than it is too let a girl do so. It is far more acceptable for a girl to be a tomboy than for a boy to be viewed as... what? There isn't even a non-perjorative term for a boy who is into feminine things!
Micro Dr.O had a good post about this issue this week- go check it out. As I said in my comment there, I think boys today are missing out on arts and crafts. I don't just mean the fancy stuff from Oriental Trading that shows up at almost every girl's birthday party we go to- I mean the basics, like coloring, and cutting and taping papers. All of the art supplies seem to be marketed at girls, and I have heard the little boys at Pumpkin's day care say things like "stickers are for girls". Maybe Crayola needs to take a page from Lego's book and go study how to get boys interested in coloring again!
Update: I wrote some more thoughts on gender specific toys.