Since we frequently point out the occasions when toy manufacturers and the like make depressingly gender-normative gestures with their products, it’s a pleasure to also point out the occasions when they get things right. So: three cheers for Ladybird, the popular publisher of childrens’ books, who have undertaken to remove any gendered labelling from their collections of stories, since “we certainly don’t want to be seen to be limiting children“.
In the interests of editorial impartiality, it should be noted that other publishers have made the same pledge: Dorling Kindersley, Miles Kelly Books, and Chad Valley have also undertaken to refrain from publishing new titles with gendered branding.
This is a result of pressure from the Let Books be Books campaign, a subsidiary of the Let Toys be Toys campaign, worthwhile enterprises both.
Back when I were a lad, Lego figures were more or less androgynous. About the only indicator of gender was the occasional (removable, transferable) haircut, and the astronauts and racing drivers could have anything under their suits. Since I were a lad, things have moved on somewhat, and Lego figures now have all sorts of gendered elements, not least an impressively extensive and detailed array of facial furniture.
Which is all well and good, but it does raise the possibility that a previously gender-neutral toy might become rather less so, and there are some indications that this is the case; see, for example, the faintly depressing spectacle of Lego’s attempt to create a product range appealing specifically to girls (though it’s only fair to note that one of these apparent simpering stereotypes in fact has a nice sideline in robot design and aspires to be ‘a scientist or an engineer‘).
Anyway, as something of a corrective to this, a reader has come up with a way to propose a rather more feminist-friendly set of figures, via Lego’s new mechanism for public suggestions. You can vote for the idea there, and if it gets lots of attention, there’s a chance that the company will end up producing female engineers, scientists, and so forth. In the meantime, there’s always magic markers.
Gendered products week continues with some gendered chocolate. Ah yes, you’re probably thinking, chocolate is very gendered. It’s the quintessential girlie indulgence, after all. But not ALL chocolate….
Gendered products week continues with an item familiar to UK readers but (as far as I know) still unfamiliar to US readers. (I’ve no idea at all about elsewhere– do tell!)
You know, I think I may declare this Gendered Products Week (in honour of which I’ve created a new gendered products category). J-Bro just sent me this lovely story about a nice girly gun you can get. It’s got some pink. And buying it actually does give money to a good cause.