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.