Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Let LEGO hear your voice: Positive Activism

LEGO logo

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SPARK Summit and Hardy Girls Healthy Women sent a letter requesting a meeting to LEGO along with a petition with 51,600 signatures that asks that they reconsider the gendered ways that they market their products. Many girl activists and experts also signed this letter, including myself.

Why does this matter? Don’t girls just play with LEGOs if they like them whether the toys are marketed to girls or not? Clearly, many of them don’t, from LEGOs own admission that there is a lack of girls playing with their product. Wonder why? I’m not sure it’s all about the color of the bricks or the shape of the minifigures. For example, my 7-year-old daughter who loves Harry Potter LEGOs sets asked me, “Do you think it’s okay for girls to like LEGOs?” I said “Sure, why not?” And she said, “Well, they’re basically only for boys. When I brought my Harry Potter LEGO book to school, I left it in my locker because I was afraid that people would make fun of me.  I said that I forgot my book when I really didn’t. I took 10 minutes reading it when nobody was around because I didn’t want anyone to see. I wanted to read the book but didn’t want the other kids to see me and make fun of me.” When I asked her what made her think that LEGOs was only for boys, she said, “Most boys really play LEGOs, and I haven’t seen any girls play with them. Plus, they’re always in the boys section at the store.” She then said, “I have seen ‘girl’ LEGO’s, but they’re pretty stupid. On the commercials it makes them look really weird and all princessy and most girls don’t like that. Some girls like Harry Potter and stuff and we like regular LEGOs, but it feels like those are just for boys.” Wow, and guess what, I haven’t actually talked with this daughter about how I feel about this issue! Since she’s my biggest LEGO fan, I didn’t want to say negative things about the product to her. Girls have certainly gotten the message that LEGOs are not for them, and if LEGO would change the way they market all of their products to be more gender neutral, I believe that it would begin to change the girls’ minds.

We would love for you to email LEGO’s and tell them that you would like for them to change their marketing to be more gender neutral so that boys and girls can imagine themselves playing with all LEGO sets. We would love for LEGO to get more letters from kids letting them know what they think about their gendered approach. While you’re writing, be sure to ask them why they haven’t responded to a petition from over 50,000 customers and a meeting request from girl experts and activists.

Here are the email addresses for the LEGO executives that need to hear from you:

michael.mcnally@LEGO.com
Jørgen.VigKnudstorp@LEGO.com
Charlotte.Simonsen@LEGO.com

Mads.Nipper@LEGO.com

They need to hear from kids who love LEGOs too, so if your child write a letter and you don’t mind sharing it, please feel free to post it on my Facebook page or in the comments section to this post.

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5 comments on “Let LEGO hear your voice: Positive Activism

  1. alfiethechihuahua
    February 4, 2012

    My kids are too young to write letters, but here’s one I wrote. Hope you don’t mind me sharing it.

    I loved LEGO as a kid. It was one of my favorite toys, and I wanted my kids to enjoy that again with me when they were older (now 1 and 3).

    Your recent release, and associated marketing of, the LEGO friends line has made me rethink this position.

    Through the ensuing discussion this has generated, I have begun to question the value of a product which actively excludes girls.

    I was on the cusp of buying a set for my oldest, a boy. I will buy alternative products, but will return on two conditions:

    1. If you use your considerable clout, as an international toy company, whose products have been enjoyed over decades, to include girls in your marketing.
    2. If you include female figurines in your sets (except where impossible, for reasons of faithfulness to a character set). And these figurines are consistent with your male figurines, and not sexualised (as per your friends line).

    I expect more form you as a company in the long term, but these two simple goals are achievable in the short term.

    I hope my loyalty to your brand is appreciated. I also hope you understand why I cannot accept excuses on this issue: girls are the majority of the population of children. There is no good reason why that is not reflected in your advertising.

    Sincerely,

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      February 4, 2012

      Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your letter.

  2. Moya Carey
    February 4, 2012

    Thanks for initiating this – I have just written in on behalf of my two children. My letter went as follows:

    I always loved Lego as a child, and played with it together with my brother.
    I now have two children, a boy (7) and a girl (3) who both adore playing with Lego. The house is full of Lego. It is easily the best toy (or toy system) on the market in history, stimulating imagination, motor skills and intellect, fuelling formation of ambitions, fantasies and even world views.

    Given Lego’s great status, it is really disappointing that you have started selling a pink “girl’s lego”. This suggests ‘normal’ Lego was never for girls in the first place, which is deeply depressing. Compounded with that implication, this provides a fairly insultingly narrow estimation of what girls like and want from lego: sexualised figures with breasts, cooking muffins and putting on makeup and clothes. Are you serious?

    Please change your marketing to be more gender neutral. Little girls have been subjected to aggressive targeted marketing over the last decade or so, with a pink-saturated, princess-dress, shallow range of toys for them to play with and aspire to. At times like this, we need Lego more than ever. My daughter’s 4th birthday is this month, and the pink lego range will not be entering the house. Nor would I ever buy it for anyone else’s child.

    While I’m at it, I would also like to ask why Lego has not responded to a petition from over 50,000 customers, or to a meeting request from girl experts and activists.
    With best wishes, and hope,

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      February 4, 2012

      Thanks for writing and sharing!

  3. Stefan R. Zicht
    May 27, 2013

    I am writing you because I was shopping on the Lego website, after having been in the Rockefeller Center store today. I have two sons, aged 7 and 4 who love Lego, as I did as a kid. I was, therefore, shocked to see the swastika included in the Raiders of the Lost Arc Lego series. I’ve seen the movies, and they’re terrific, of course, but they’re not for little children. Be that as it may, there is no compelling reason that Lego, which prides itself as being an educational product for children, would need to include genocidal symbolism in its toys. It’s thoughtless at best, and unconscionable at worst. I am very disappointed to have seen such a thing. Is this choice really one that is best for the company and the children they serve? I have written and sent a letter to various people at Lego management.

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This entry was posted on February 4, 2012 by in Acting, For Teens and Tweens and tagged , , , , .

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