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Scandal in Fun Town: Legoland Is Full of Sexist Propaganda!

Photo by Lonnon Foster via Flickr
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Taking the kids to a theme park is supposed to be an indulgent day of fun flights of fancy, where make believe lets the little ones (and the young at heart) escape for a few hours. But at Legoland, one of the San Diego area's most popular destinations, something is perhaps afoul in Fun Town and elsewhere in the theme park based on everyone's favorite interlocking plastic bricks.Apparently, Legoland is a world where women are depicted unfairly, stereotypically, or downright insultingly. One parent has raised the cries of sexism on a site called Pigtail Pals, describing a recent visit to the theme park:

"The shows we saw have not one respectable female character (they manage to portray even cleopat…ra like a kardashian sister). Their kids meals and collectible cups come in pink or blue. The blue ones have several lego characters (ninjas, pirates, etc) on one side and a huge pirate ship scene on the other. The pink ones have 3 “sassy” looking girls (not lego figures) on both sides. They’re not doing anything, or supposed to be anything. They’re just standing there with big doey eyes being,……I don’t know……..”cool” girls, I guess? And then there’s still this. In fun town (which was pretty fun before I saw this), there are two life size characters built entirely from legos. there’s a male police officer and a female firefighter. Cool, right? Except the man is talking into his walkie talkie, while the woman is………wait for it…….not putting out a fire, but……….putting on lipstick!!! WTH???"

WTH indeed! Why isn't the firefighter holding a hose or rescuing a baby, dammit?

Accusations of sexism at Legoland and in Lego products has become more common recently. Last year the company released a line called Lego Friends, which are products targeted at young girls. However, the line suffered tremendous backlash from consumers and pundits who believed the products weren't actual Lego manipulatives, but just regular "girls toys" that could have come from any toymaker--there was no construction involved.

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But are Legos primarily a boy's toy? Some argue that the creation of the "not for boys" Lego Friends line drives home the assumption that regular Lego products are designed for boys.

Others, however, believe that Lego should not market exclusively to girls at all, because they want their daughters to be exposed to the engineering constructs of Legos as-is. One parent writes on the Legoland Facebook page: "Keep ultra-femininity out of the wonderful world of Legos please. We are a 3 generation household of Legos and want Science and Engineering to lead our daughters onward, not old world concepts."

Okay, so back to the theme park.

In 2008 one blogger "ranted" about the sexist "gap" at Legoland (though he, too, believes Legos are made for boys):

The thing is, Legoland suits all different age ranges but in specific striations, if I'm allowed to use that word. Or perhaps 'niches'. For the 4 to 6 year old girl, there's plenty to keep them amused that doesn't require huge queueing. For the 12 to 20 year old teenage girl, the more sensational rides will be more attractive and they'll have the patience to queue for them. Yet for boys, Legoland works from 4 to 20 years old with no gaps. I guess that's part of the nature of the beast - Lego being a boys toy etc. But it also reflects the way girls tend to be scared of anything remotely dangerous, while boys will 'enjoy' being scared.

Is Legoland really for boys? And even so, is that firefighter putting on lipstick sending the right message?
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This 2-part video from FeministFrequency takes a look at Lego and gender: