Lego, you are making me sad

Lego2I miss Lego so much. I miss it like I miss my sister, who lives on the other side of the country.

I miss how its brand used to be about playing, and creating, pure and simple, and had nothing to do with roles and gimmicks and sub-brands and market segmentation.

I miss its hearty, healthy identity: the shiny colourful toys that let you forget whether you were a boy or a girl, whether you were poor or rich (accept of course the bit about how the rich kids had more actual Lego pieces), whether you were little or big.

Lego didn’t measure your competence in any way – there was no way of ‘winning’ at Lego save your own satisfaction at solving a creative problem.

Lego included in its recent marketing some stuff that makes me feel so, so sad. I wrote this on a little petition site.

I grew up with Lego, as did many, many women of my generation. Playing with Lego helped us learn how to think, how to problem-solve and gave us an outlet for creativity that didn’t involve mastering a skill such as painting. I am really disappointed that Lego is segmenting its range into boys’ and ‘ products as one of the things that made it great was its very gender-neutrality; it was one of the few toys you could play with that didn’t distract you with thinking about how you are a girl and girls play a certain way. The street harassment stickers should be seen by Lego marketing management as the canary in the coalmine: Lego is getting poisonous.

Here’s the petition:

girls legoBut it’s not just the stupid street harassment sticker. It feels like Lego has turned its back on me and my childhood, and wants to commodify my children’s childhood. My three-year-old doesn’t watch commercial TV so she doesn’t see the ads, but I never want her to. I’m going to buy the blocks on the sly, never taking her down the aisle of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ Lego.   She’s got plenty of time to learn about being a girl. Until then, she just needs to learn how to be a thinking, creative, problem-solving person.


Are you an average mainstream media article? You’re sexist and stupid

average-620x349Today, The Age promoted on Twitter a post about a new release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which disclosed that the average Australian, uncovered via the 2011 census, is female and aged 37.

In the definitive article about the (statistically) average Australian, which you might think would end up somewhere in national news (the online version of EGN) but no.

The results are in: using data from the 2011 national census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has attempted to paint a picture of the “average Australian”.

“The Census shows that if there was an average Australian, they would be a married woman, living with her husband and two children in a three-bedroom house in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities,” said Jane Griffin-Warwicke, director of Social and Progress Reporting at the ABS. More on the Essential Baby website, if you can stomach it.

The Age is rational and logical – traditional ‘masculine’ traits – so it filed the story in ‘Essential Baby’. That’s because the story is not about ‘the average Australian’; it’s about ‘female Australians who have babies’.

I am thinking that it doesn’t really matter what women do – whether we’re outliers or average, even if we represent the national average of an entire country, we’re still mothers of babies first and national news second.