Gender Stereotyping Is Worse For Boys Than For Girls

Moms across the Internet (and probably some dads, too) have been furious this past week over "girl Legos." The company came out this month with Friends Legos. These "girl Legos" come in pink and pastels and sit in hot tubs and generally do "girl things." Predictably, moms are up in arms.

The truth is, Legos in their original form were meant for girls AND boys. A vintage 1981 ad for the toys prove this. Their rich primary colors did nothing to detract from the fact that both boys and girls could play with them. And yet, I see nothing wrong with adding some pink the mix. Who is to say that some boys might not enjoy pink, too?

Is that shocking to say? My guess is those same moms who are furious over pink Legos for girls might never even have considered that primary color Legos actually gender stereotype, too. In fact, in the long run, when it comes to gender stereotyping, I worry far, far more about my son than I do my daughter.


She has infinite choices, it seems. If she wanted to be a sporty girl or a smart girl or a girly girl, she can be any of them. With boys, it is much more rigid. If my son liked pink or wanted to wear a glitter crown, people would laugh at him. No one would bat an eye at my daughter in a police helmet.

I support moms who are against gender stereotyping, but I have found that most of the time, these are moms of girls. Many moms of boys don't even think about it.

The fact is, despite incessant marketing to girls and inappropriate, over-sexualized clothing, moms who are willing to open their minds a little and protect their girls don't have to look far to help them be well-rounded and seek out what truly interests them. My daughter loves princesses, but she also is fascinated by daddy's tools and her primary colored magna-tiles and constructing homes of gingerbread, toy logs, blocks and more.

She is not one thing. Meanwhile, my son won't go near a pink thing. I don't know where he got it, but at just 3.5, he has started refusing to wear his sister's pink hand-me-down pajamas. He will play princesses, but only if he can slay the dragon in increasingly violent ways. It may just be him, but my guess is that he is taking in the notion that boys are strong, fierce and brave. They rescue, but they don't need to be rescued.

I worry a lot about my tender little boy and his loving ways and how they will be squashed by our society's harsh rules about boys and how they should behave. My daughter, on the other hand, is tough. She is so strong-willed even her teachers comment on it constantly. If she wants something, she gets it. She may be influenced by marketing, but I am fairly confident she would never let it define her.

So, yes, I like pink Legos. I like them for both my son and my daughter. I think they make Legos more well-rounded. Neither of my kids play with Legos much now, but if they do in the future, I would bring out both and let them play with both. To be so close-minded to pink is actually to ignore a whole other side of this issue.

Sadly, this is not a black and white issue with poor victimized girls on one side and an oppressive patriarchy on the other. There are nuances and many insidious ways our children are being forced into boxes, both girls and boys. So if you are a mom adamantly against pink Legos, maybe ask yourself this: Is it possible a boy somewhere might like them? Who is gender stereotyping now?

Do the pink Legos bother you?


Image via Bloomberg Business Week

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