Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Goldie Blox are Worse than Barbies

A few months ago, I found out about this new toy.  It's like knex and legos met and made a baby franchise specifically aimed at girls.  I read about it, I got disgruntled, but then I let it drop.  This past week, though, a few different sources have posted an ad by Goldie Blox, and my facebook wall has been overflowing with interest in the product.

The commercial really demonstrates everything I find wrong with the product.  For about a minute and a half, in a parody of The Beastie Boys, three cute girls sing about how they're smart and creative and don't like that all the toys marketed to them are pink and frilly dolls and kitchen sets that imply that they have now future in STEM fields.  They're just as smart as boys and can do anything boys can do.  Great, right?  But then, we actually see the product.  These blocks and building parts are in pastel colors and have smooth, rounded edges.  If you look around the website, the girls all have long, flowing hair, and one is even wearing a tiara for a "parade float" set. 

What the product is saying is that girls might be interested in what boys are doing, but only if they can do it in a hyper-feminized way.  They claim to want women in men's fields, but what this toy is communicating is that the way to do this is to feminize these traditionally masculine fields.

This product is also overlooking something far more feminist that girls have been doing for decades: playing with boy's toys.  Smart girls love playing with hard edged, boldly colored lego blocks.  They love knex.  Basically, if a girl has a a brain to do it, she doesn't need pink and purple blocks to help her do it.  She needs to be told that it doesn't matter if toys are "girls" or "boys" toys--she can play with whatever she wants.

The answer to the poor options for boy and girls toys is not to make a masculine baby doll or feminine nerf gun.  The answer is to address the fact that we think that boys and girls need separate toys at all.

Friday, November 15, 2013

10--no 15!--favorite books

So I've been throwing the phrase "my top 10 books" around a lot lately.  Someone will mention a book, and I'll exclaim, "Oh!  That's one of my top 10 favorite books!"  It made me decide that I should probably sit down and make a list of my 10 favorite books.

Well, I had it down to 10.  But then I looked at the list of excluded books.  And I was sad.

So, I added 5 of the excluded books back.  Now I am not sad.  This is a good representation of the books I love.  I also liked that it happened to be a pretty nice distribution over my just-over-20 years of reading novels.

So, for no reason other than that I have fun thinking about books, I give you my list of 15 favorite books!

BOOK (YEAR READ)
A Little Princess (1993)
Bridge to Terabithia (1997)
Watership Down (1998)
The Three Musketeers (2002)
The Lord of the Rings (2002)
Till We Have Faces (2003)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2003)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (2003)
Ender's Shadow (2005)
The Wise Virgins (2009)
The Years (2009)
Mill on the Floss (2011)
Story of an African Farm (2011)
Sons and Lovers (2012)
Brideshead Revisited (2012)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Puppy Means of Grace

This morning was a rough morning with the puppy.  Long story short, I tried to take something out of his mouth that he really wanted to keep in his mouth, and he let me know it by biting down on the offending hand.  He's nipped before but never bitten, so I was pretty upset.  I also wished I had handled it differently to prevent the situation.  Plus, you know, my hand hurt.

I put him to bed right away (it was time for him to go down anyway) and rushed to take care of my hand.  Then I ran to my meeting, distracted and frustrated.  Mostly with myself.  When I came home, I went to get Samwise out of his crate.  I looked in, and I noticed that in my hurry to take care of my hand, I had left Samwise's leash, 200-dollar-collar-and-remote, and paper bowl (for feeding) way too close to the crate.  Normally, he'd have managed to get all of those items in the crate and would have chewed them to pieces.  I was already impressed.  But, then, as soon as I opened the door of his crate, he ran over to my hand and started licking the bandage, giving it kisses, and nudging it and looking at me.

It was such a sweet moment!  I had spent all morning worrying about the situation and being frustrated with myself for not preventing it, and here was my puppy saying "I'm sorry" in the sweetest way ever.  And it was also him saying "I love you" even though I felt like I had failed him.

I love my little puppy, and I am so grateful for the many ways that he brings grace and happiness into my life.