And, of course, GoldieBlox, which we get a glimpse of here or there throughout the ad. They do this all with an inspirational Beastie Boys song playing in the background.The toy itself is a building set marketed to girls. How do I know it’s marketed to girls, other than the blond girl on the box and the advertisements with little girls nailing ballet slippers to skateboards? It’s pink.Yes, you read that right. The company that proclaims, “Girls need more choices than the pink aisle has to offer,” made its toy pink. Also yellow, baby blue and lavender.Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we already have a construction toy made out of pink, lavender and baby blue plastic that’s marketed to girls? It’s called Lego Friends.Weren’t we all just up in arms over the way Lego markets its Friends collection to girls? Yet, it’s huzzahs all around for the GoldieBlox commercial. True, the GoldieBlox ad tells a tale near and dear to the feminist heart—girls can become engineers—while the Friends line features a pet salon and a puppy playhouse. Fundamentally, however, they’re really not all that different. Both assume girls like to build differently than boys and that they are attracted to certain colors. They buy into what I like to consider the Fallacy of the Pink.
As I’ve written elsewhere, I don’t object to pink. I like pink a lot, in fact. It’s a lovely color, but it’s not the exclusive province of girls. My sons like pink; in fact, my middle son is currently rocking a bright pink turtleneck. Are GoldieBlox not for them? They’d like a pink building toy, too. When my elder son saw the first GoldieBlox ad about a year ago, his first response was, “That’s sexist. Why is it just for girls?”
The GoldieBlox ad manipulates us with a feminist story, but it buys into the same old system. It’s a “girls’” toy, playing right along with the established dichotomy in the toy store. Sure, I can buy it for my sons if I like the toy, but the message of the commercial is that they’ll be playing with a girls’ toy.
What we need, rather than more gendering, are construction toys marketed to both sexes. The toys can be red, green and blue, and also pink, yellow and teal. As my middle son likes to say, “Colors are for everyone.”
Someday, I want to open my Facebook feed and find everyone excited about a commercial for an engineering toy that features girls and boys building together, without comment upon their gender. That would be truly revolutionary.
UPDATE: GoldieBlox has sued the Beastie Boys after that band issued an open letter supporting the message of empowering girls but accusing the company of copyright infringement for using its song “Girls” without permission (but with new lyrics) to help sell the product in the ad discussed above.
Photo courtesy of Paul Watson via Creative Commons 2.0.