#Liberate LEGO!

From Huffington Post:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html?ref=tw

Lyn Mikel Brown
Posted: 12/28/11

When LEGO announced that after four years of marketing research, the best they could come up with was a thinner, pinker version of their product, I admit, I laughed out loud. My first reaction wasn’t outrage, but incredulity. A billion dollars of marketing research bought you… LEGO Barbie? After marketers have carpet-bombed a pink, appearance-obsessed consumer version of girl power via every conceivable media outlet for the past decade, did you really expect to hear little girls express a desire for anything else?

Turns out I wasn’t the only one with a strong reaction to the new Ladyfig LEGOs. (“Ladyfigs”? Really, ask for your money back.) SPARK (Sexualization Protest: Action Resistance Knowledge) movement girl blogger, Stephanie Cole wrote, “the part of me that still fondly remembers epic LEGO vs. Playmobile battles with my sister and cousin, is pretty royally pissed off.” The new Ladyfigs, she notes, “are taller, skinnier and they have boobs. They will be marketed to girls five and up. Why?”

We know why. In truth, LEGO may very well get a larger market share if they have two separate lines of products. “Unisex” and “gender neutral” are blasphemy to a large percentage of parents, who are quick to point out that girls and boys play differently. But as neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains, “boy-girl differences are not as ‘hard-wired’ as many parents today, imbued with the Mars/Venus philosophy, believe.” The human brain is “fantastically plastic” and the best thing we can do for our children is to give them a full range of opportunities and experiences, especially in the early years. We don’t know at five how little Tierra’s or Tommy’s passions and talents will surface, so why pay good money to limit their options to the pink and blue aisles of toy stores?

SPARKTeam blogger, Bailey, promoting Stephanie’s post on Twitter, soon began an exchange with LEGO: “They thanked me…and respectfully disagreed, stating that four years of research had told them,” in so many words, “that the mini-skirt-wearing, hot-tub-bathing, beauty-shop-running LEGO ladies are what girls want now.” As if Bailey didn’t know the difference between market research, the goal of which is to figure out the best way to target and sell to children, and unbiased scientific research, the goal of which is to know what’s good or bad for developing children. Of course, the unbiased research finds that the path LEGO has chosen, narrowing girls’ options to a stereotypical version of femininity, is bad for girls.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html?ref=tw

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