March 9, 2012

What's the Problem with Pink Legos Anyway?

If I had the option between pink Legos and the original Legos as a little girl, I would’ve gone for the pink. Instead, for my sixth birthday I got a primary-colored kit. To please my penchant for pink, however, the kit was wrapped in pale pink, pastel heart-imprinted wrapping paper. I still fantasize about that wrapping paper. Growing up, I had two older brothers who were rambunctious little men, rough-housing and skateboarding on the half pipe my parents had built for them in our driveway, and otherwise being really, really annoying.

You would’ve thought that having two big brothers around would’ve made me want to participate in their little guy play, but instead I preferred playing house and hosting tea parties. I also enjoyed gender-neutral activities too -- don’t get it twisted. I loved playing with blocks (you know – the wooden ones in different shapes, which just happened to be primary-colored, mind you), building forts, and yes, playing match cars with my first male friend Jay, an adorable Tiny Tim lookalike who made awesome sound effects with his mouth when he smashed the cars together.

I never remember my mother ever forcing the pink, girly girl thing on me; instead, the color pink and most things girly were what I naturally gravitated to. This is not to say that all girls naturally gravitate to traditionally feminine things, however. I think everyone has different instinctive predilections, which are not only cultural, but are biological too, case in point being the little boy in nursery school who loved playing dress up, which included donning a woman’s nightgown and running around the classroom shrieking in delight. That little boy is now a grown man who considers himself gay. I firmly believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, so I would venture to say that his inclination to more “girly” activities was deeply rooted in his biology. That being said, some little boys probably happen to like pink Legos, too.
I say it’s about picking your battles. Pink Legos do not result in devastation to girlhood or boyhood. In fact, girly girls who might not otherwise be drawn to Legos may be more likely to play with them, to create with them, to build with them, simply because they are pink or more femininely themed. Likewise, girly boys may be drawn to the pastel-colored building blocks. And this is not a bad thing.

On some level I understand the concern expressed by feminists who are arguing against the limiting nature of pink Legos, including the Pink Brick Box, which consists of “Creative Cakes” and “Mia’s Puppy House” kits, among others. We don’t want to limit our little girls into thinking that they are only capable of baking cakes and taking care of puppies, but in some cases (I daresay many cases), little girls enjoy doing these things. Regardless, that doesn’t mean that they’ll grow into women thinking that their only viable option is to become a mommy who bakes cakes and takes care of puppies. I certainly didn’t.

We, as an American culture, have evolved considerably in the last 50 years, such that it is okay for little girls who are tomboys to gravitate toward“blue” and little boys who are femme to gravitate toward “pink.” Pink ≠ just Girl anymore, just like Blue ≠ just Boy anymore. The beautiful thing about being a woman (or girl) in 2012 is the choices we have. I thank the first-wave and second-wave feminists for breaking down the great wall for us – for gaining us the right to vote, earning us reproductive rights, and establishing various sexual discrimination laws in the workplace. Overall, life is pretty good for us these days, and I will be the first one to attribute it to the fearless feminists who paved the way before us. Nevertheless, I agree that there is still improvement to be made; there is always improvement to be made, everywhere.

But let’s pick our battles here: Are pink Legos really a battle worth fighting? I happen to think not; there are much, much bigger battles in the world.

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