With the holidays swiftly approaching (although by the looks of stores, the holidays have been here since October) I’ve been thinking a lot about gift-giving. Specifically, I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts for children. My boyfriend’s niece, Annaliese, was born around Christmas last year so baby girl presents have been on my radar.
Not too long ago, a video was circling on Facebook advertising GoldieBlox, which are basically toy engineering sets for little girls. The ad has been under a lot of scrutiny due to a lawsuit with the Beastie Boys over the unauthorized use of their song “Girls” with updated lyrics like: “You like to buy us pink toys, and everything else is for boys and you can always get us dolls and we’ll grow up like them … false.” Here is the ad without the song in the background:
I did however have a chance to watch the original video before it was taken down and it was very entertaining and creative. The basic message is that girls can be future engineers and are more than just princesses and dolls.
Yet, the toys themselves are mostly pink and the theme of one of the toy sets is “Goldie Blox and the Parade Float” (Goldie, the blonde character that the product name references, is participating in a princess pageant). The company’s website claims that they are “disrupting the pink aisle” by “designing a toy from the female perspective” but how can that be so if the toys are only enforcing gender stereotypes. Don’t get me wrong, the message is fantastic. I just wonder why toymakers think girls won’t be interested in something that isn’t pink or related to their idea of the cliched “female perspective”. When I was younger I had a K’NEX set that I loved playing with and building things like swing sets and amusement park rides. It wasn’t pink and it certainly wasn’t a princess pageant. This kind of gender stereotyping is one of the many reasons that girls aren’t involved in science or engineering. But that is a whole other discussion.
With a baby girl to buy for I have been extremely conscious of the toys, clothes, and other baby items made for girls. Most of which are pink. I know she’s only turning 1 year old and none of these toys or clothes will really mean anything to her now but as she gets older it is something that I think about as I do with all girls. How can we encourage gender equality and feminism in our younger generations when the divide is so clear even at a young age? The colors pink and blue don’t mean anything until you give them meaning. I think GoldieBlox has good intentions but needs a little work to get on track. I’ll open this up to discussion – What do you think of GoldieBlox? How much influence do toys have on children? Does the color pink actually mean anything? Are there other toy companies out there with similar missions that succeed in ways that GoldieBlox does not? Do we even need to have separate girls and boys engineering toys? Am I just totally over thinking this?