by Heather E. Ash
It looks like my son will get to “stay a boy” after all, thanks to Lego.
In my previous post, I wrote a letter to Lego taking them to task for requiring that my son identify himself as a girl in their database in order to receive the Lego Friends insert, which was sent only to girls. Yes, the pinkwashed Friends line is annoying in that it reinforces stereotypical gender roles while claiming to promote STEM participation in girls (yet do we see “Mia Mechanical Engineer?” We do not.) More annoying was that every girl was assumed to want the Lego Friends advertising while every boy was not.
And my boy still wanted it. After I told him about the blog post, he was back to whining. “Did you tell them to change me to a girl yet?”
“No, son. It’s wrong and I won’t do it.” Because we have rules in this family, guidelines for living that include “Be kind” and “Learn something new every day.” Also “Don’t sell your soul.”
Some of these rules are easier to explain to young children than others. This is another one they weren’t quite sure about:
I bought this magnet the day the post first appeared and put it on the refrigerator above our family calendar. I hoped the children would see it and somehow the words would leech into their minds, allowing the meaning to steep over the years.
But today I took it off the refrigerator. I made the kids stop their homework and read the words on the magnet out loud. “Do you know what this means yet?”
“This is what it means.” Then I read this email to them:
“Thanks for getting in touch with us about your son’s LEGO® Club membership. I’ve read your blog post with interest and I really regret that you’ve had this experience. Any of our LEGO themes can be enjoyed by any builder, which is why we offer so many different options from which children can choose based on their interests.
We found the conclusion at the end of your post very compelling. As a result, we’ve updated the way kids can opt into or out of the LEGO Friends insert in their LEGO Club Magazine. We’ve worked across global functions to make this happen as quickly as possible, while also developing a more in-depth strategy for next year.
The quick solution is that from now on, LEGO Service advisors will be able to select the LEGO Club magazine with or without the LEGO Friends insert. This will be based on the LEGO Club member’s preference as you suggested and not as determined by gender. Please call or e-mail us again so we can update your son’s preference to get the magazine with the LEGO Friends insert. We’ll then send the latest issue to him so he can enjoy it.
Our longer term approach to improving the online sign up process will offer parents and the LEGO builders in their family a choice of magazine versions, so that we can be sure that we really meet to our fans’ tastes.
For 80 years, our core values have been Fun, Creativity, Imagination, Learning, Quality and Caring. We take these values very seriously and we really care about our fans, so I’m grateful that you took the time to share your views.
Please let me know if I can do anything else.
If Lego follows through, my son will get his Friends insert. Someone else’s son won’t even have to ask, or forced to identify as something he doesn’t consider himself to be. And no one’s daughter will be automatically enrolled based on outdated gender stereotyping. And children with a gender identity that isn’t girl or boy, won’t need to identify as something they aren’t just to get the toys they crave.
Thanks to Lego, my kids understand the meaning behind the magnet.
After seeing how far companies can go to allow for greater gender equity in toy marketing, my daughter is composing a letter to Toys ‘R Us: “The Princess and the Pet Peeve: Where You Can Stick Your (Boys-Only) Sword”
maybe you and your son could make a trip through a lego stargate to prevent me for my next averium ……..ethic lessons instead of gender problems
Happy to hear the resolution – and good for you! (And thanks from the rest of us, for speaking up and making that difference!)