A princess castle, Goldieblox and the gender thing

flower girl 225x300 A princess castle, Goldieblox and the gender thingThis week I did something that I never really expected I’d do…

I shopped online for a princess castle.

Because the little one decided the only thing she wants for Christmas is a princess castle.

This happened during the same week that the Goldieblox commercial took over the internet. Everyone was all excited about how awesome it was…and then the backlash (Beastie Boys issue aside) began.

The toy is pink.

One of the narratives involves a princess pageant.

Why do we need a special building set for girls?

Although I now own a fabulous pair of fluorescent pink high heel shoes; I was once the kid who hated dresses, liked trucks, loved blue and would have been happy with a bucket of good old- fashioned Lego.

Just three years ago I would have agreed with those Goldieblox concerns.

Then I had a little girl.

And that little girl changed my perspective a bit on gender and feminism…leading me to the princess castle.

I have a little girl who despite her gender neutral bedroom and playroom filled with trains and trucks; despite her lack of exposure to TV advertising and my efforts to avoid filling her wardrobe with too much pink; and despite her being surrounded by strong independent women in male dominated fields…is pink dress and princess obsessed.

She does love rocket ships, picking up worms and playing hockey, but she also loves dolls and pink tutus and if given the choice between Thomas the Tank Engine and Cinderella, Cinderella would kick Thomas’ ass.

Heck, if she was locked in a room with nothing but a train set, she would probably use the track pieces as beds and put the baby Cinderella trains to sleep.

I have to be okay with that.

She’s a great kid and I want her to be who she is. I’ve realized that I can’t give my daughter options then be disappointed with her choices. That’s not fair either. Vilifying princesses and the colour pink is not the answer because I don’t want her to feel bad about who she is.

Would I care if my son was obsessed with Superman and the colour blue?

At the end of the day she’s a kid and she’s just playing. Putting on a princess dress will not make her destined for a life of male servitude. I know plenty of women who loved Barbie and men who had a large arsenal of toy weaponry, but they’re not getting boob jobs or arrested for assault.

I like the Goldieblox toy because it’s a little different and my kid might actually play with it. Other building toys would probably end up sitting in the corner with the afore mentioned train set. This toy, with its pink ribbons, puppies and narratives, might take my daughter’s attention away from the dolls for a bit and get her doing something really cool.

Should we market toys specifically to girls?

I think so because although girls and boys are both capable of extraordinary things, they are different and they often do things differently…and because we don’t live in an ideal world.

In an ideal world Goldieblox wouldn’t exist. But unfortunately, in the real world, Goldieblox and its little pink engineering lessons will reach more girls than a more gender neutral building toy. Can we really fault a company for wanting to create a toy that sells?

Goldieblox is “disrupting the pink aisle” not by overthrowing it but by adding a new option to it, a toy that’s not centred on “domestic” role playing. It’s a toy that might get girls, even the princess-lovers, to think and play a little differently.

That’s a good thing.

It’s is not a leap for gender equality or paradigm shifting; it’s just a small step in a good direction.

Why are we expecting this toy to be more than that and faulting it when it can’t possibly in the current toy landscape?

Should we really expect toys to be paradigm shifting and shape children’s feminist views? Isn’t their main job to encourage kids to use their imagination, learn, have fun and try new things? I’ve realized that the toy my daughter plays with for two months when she’s three-years-old is not going to have a profound impact on her views of women. I and the real women I surround her with are going to do that

In the first Goldieblox commercial there was a little girl dressed in a pink ballet outfit hammering her ballet slippers to her skateboard.

That could be my kid.

The Goldieblox t-shirts don’t say “down with princesses” they say “more than just a princess” and right now, I think that’s exactly the message I need.

So I bought my daughter the princess castle and when she tells me she loves pink I’m going to tell her it’s an awesome colour.

But, I’ll also buy her the hockey stick and the train pajamas.

And I’ll tell her, and keep telling her, that all colours are awesome and that princesses can be astronauts too.

Posted on by Pub Patio Playdate Posted in parenting, thoughts

8 Responses to A princess castle, Goldieblox and the gender thing

  1. Katherine

    I saw that video also – girls need more opportunities to explore create – I agree! For me it was always going outside and playing in nature and then we were all equal – boys, girls, no matter who would wade in creeks, climb trees, run through fields. (that reminds me – did you see the toys r us commercial?)

    • Pub Patio Playdate

      So true! The great outdoors is really the most gender neutral play space. My daughter is not nearly as interested in dolls and princesses when she’s outside.

  2. Lynn

    I agree completely, and very well said. As the mother of two daughters – one tomboy, one girly-girl – I have come to understand that their interests lie much more with their own personalities than on any external forces. One loves trucks and track pants and LEGO; the other loves princesses and ballerinas and puppies. I’m the same mother to both, it’s just who they are – and more than anything, I want them to discover who they are and get comfortable with that. So *I* have to be 100% comfortable with who they are, too.

    • Lori

      I agree so much, I wrote a very similar post! #GreatMinds http://loribrooks.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/in-defense-of-dolls/

      • Pub Patio Playdate

        Read it. Loved it! We’re big doll lovers over here.

    • Pub Patio Playdate

      Thanks. It’s true; we don’t have as much influence as we sometimes like to think. Princesses, ballerinas and puppies are okay too, even great, and I fear we’ve gone too far by making them the enemy. That’s not fair to girls either.

  3. Janet

    Great post. It’s good to encourage them beyond the stereotypes, but also to acknowledge some tendencies will be there independently of our efforts.

    Your comment about your daughter using the train tracks as Cinderella train beds reminds me of my son using his tea set the other day. He served tea to me and to all his stuffed buddies… and then he made a tower out of the dishes.

    • Pub Patio Playdate

      Lol! Thanks. They are who they are. We might as well enjoy it and make them feel good about it.

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