Tuesday, 4 December 2018

In the pink

A friend and I were discussing what I should buy her little girl for Christmas. We hit upon Lego. "Friends Lego, the pink stuff?" I clarified nervously. She grimaced apologetically: "Yes, I think she'd like it. It would make a change from all her brother's kits." We both experienced that twitchy, self-correcting thought - in this 'woke' world of new feminism, should we really be buying our girls pink Lego?

A bouquet of pink roses
Are pink roses just for girls?
The fact is my daughter enjoyed her pink Lego back in the day and I suspect this little girl would too. I'm guessing the 'Friends-themed' Lego range wouldn't have expanded as quickly as it has, if it didn't sell. The treehouses, camper vans and art studios, all decked out in pastel shades, are clearly designed to appeal to a feminine sensibility. Heck, I probably would have loved Friends Lego too as a child, had it been around then. 

But I can understand the objections. Why do girls need a separate range in a soft, feminine colour scheme? Isn't this social conditioning at work? Are we to infer girls won't want to construct something unless it's pink/purple and preferably rooted in the domestic/social sphere? As if to counter this, the Friends Lego website is currently promoting a 'race day' set complete with brightly coloured go-karts and girly drivers.

Friends Lego 'Mia's Tree house' set
Mia's Tree House from Friends Lego
Credit: Lego website
But the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. Why have these softer qualities - traditionally associated with girls - been demonised to the point where we no longer feel comfortable buying toys associated with them? What's wrong with pink and purple? Why can't our girls play with treehouses if they want to? Or, our boys for that matter. In the struggle for gender equality, it's as if anything considered overtly feminine = bad. We are made to feel that our girls should instead be playing with emergency-response vehicles and warring ninja play-figures, armed to the hilt...

Really, it should be about choice. I'm as guilty as anyone. When my son picked up a silk rose in Laura Ashley the other day and thought it might look nice in his new bedroom, I tried to talk him out of it. My instinctive reaction was: silk flowers are not for boys! But why on earth not? Let's celebrate all sides of our culture and let everyone play with whatever they want. I'm glad to say we bought the rose for my son and I also ordered a pink Lego set for my friend's daughter. And, when I was a little girl, my favourite toy was a Fisher Price car garage. Vive la différence.