“You like to buy us pink toys and everything else is for boys”

I assume you’ve seen the Goldieblox advert by now? If not, have a look, see what you think.

First things first, I love the visuals of the advert. The idea of taking all these passive, pink, pretty things and turning them into some huge, fun, house sized chain reaction feat of engineering. That is excellent and I love it. Looks like fun, and I’d have been dying to try my own version as a young child. Very inspiring.

And the lyrics, occasionally a bit cringeworthy, but mostly good.

You think you know what we want, girls.
Pink and pretty it’s girls.
Just like the 50’s it’s girls.

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.

It’s time to change.
We deserve to see a range.
‘Cause all our toys look just the same
and we would like to use our brains.

We are all more than princess maids.

Girls to build the spaceship,
Girls to code the new app,
Girls to grow up knowing
they can engineer that.

That’s all we really need is Girls.
To bring us up to speed it’s Girls.
Our opportunity is Girls.
Don’t underestimate Girls.

Can’t argue with lines like “we would like to use our brains” or “we deserve to see a range”.

And here comes the but..

After all this talk of wanting more than pink, princessy, passive toys, or wanting to use brains. The advert is for a toy that is princessy, and is actually fairly passive in that children (just girls) re encouraged to create exactly the machine the makers have designed, with little to no room for creativity or for them to use their brains. So much for the wild, creative, inventive, craziness of the advert.

Just have a look at the packaging, would it really stand out to you amongst all the other pink, princessy stuff? Would the toy itself?

I totally an utterly agree with the lyrics when they talk about girls being more than just princesses, but along with that I believe girls are capable of playing with toys in colours other than the “safe” palette of pastels, I also believe girls and boys do not need separate toys. And I think that while Goldieblox may have good intentions they are actually just adding to this idea of boys and girls being entirely different species, incapable of liking and playing with the same toys.

In fact I think it’s a little sad that we’ve become so used to this constant gendering of toys that should have no gender (if you are wondering which toys should be gendered, here you go) that this product is actually being hailed as a good thing. When it is merely paying lip service to little girls being equal to little boys when it comes to engineering toys. If little girls were truly being treated as equal then they wouldn’t need toys to be specifically marketed at them alone. If they were truly seen as equal they’d be being told they could play with any toy, regardless of colour/theme.

How about something really shocking? Why don’t we make toys in all the colours under the sun, and tell boys AND girls they can play with any of them? Why don’t we tell boys and girls they can play with the SAME toys? Why don’t we stop patronising our young girls by assuming they need all the toys marketed at them to involve beauty and cute and princessy themes? Why don’t we treat our children equally?

Further reading:

Anti-princess marketing

GoldieBlox as a brand is speaking out of both sides of their mouth. GoldieBlox claims to be anti-princess. It depicts girls who declare they are not princesses and who want to learn interesting new things, and it offers their toy as a solution; but then it turns around and offers girls a “princess parade” toy to play with.

Goldieblox? No thanks

And then came the ad. I love the fact that the girls are fighting back about all their crappy pink princess toys and build this awesome contraption to deal with it all. But it is set to the tune of one of the most misogynist songs to ever be recorded, “Girls” by the Beastie Boys. Yes they have changed the lyrics for the commercial,  and we all know that the tune is catchy as hell… but do you remember the actual lyrics? “Girls! To do the dishes! Girls! To clean up my room! Girls! To do the laundry! Girls! And in the bathroom!”

Let Toys Be Toys

Let Toys Be Toys is asking retailers to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.

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