Monday, February 3, 2014

So, You Say You Want a Revolution in the Pink Aisle.

The days of playing with the toys our fathers carved or our mothers sewed for us are a distant memory. In their place has grown: THE TOY STORE! And in this toy store, there are many aisles full of toys. There are every kind of toy: balls and dolls, building and baking, science and imagination. It is a marvelous place that kids, as well as parents can lose themselves in.

Also in this magical land of entertainment and endless joy is controversy, because that's what we do. It's not good enough for there to be toys, but there are toys for girls and then, there are toys for boys. This separation and the controversy around it has become known as the fight for the Pink Aisle.
And now, because of Intuit's "GoldieBlox" Super Bowl ad, the battle is back in the spotlight.

If you haven't heard of GoldieBlox, I'd advise a quick Google search, as the company's story has been well dissected by people far more knowledgeable than I. Here's the short of it though: entrepreneur wants to make a toy for girls that breaks out of the pink aisle by branding what amounts to pink Tinkertoys ®, followed by viral legal battle over copyright issues for a song they used in an ad. Got it? OK then, moving on. 

Lets lay out a few quick foundations for the rest of the discussion. Girls like pink. Girls can like other colors. Boys like other colors. Boys can also like pink.

This is an age where a woman can be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and a man can be a Stay-at-Home-Dad. Gender barriers are falling all over the place, every single day. Making a pink toy and marketing it to girls is not the way to disrupt the pink aisle. Doing so simply re-enforces the stereotype that the Erector set, the Tinkertoy, the telescope, the dump truck aren't for girls. Unless you paint them pink.

Do I believe that girls can do maths and sciences? ABSOLUTELY. Do I want my daughter to be given a chance to excel at whatever she chooses? Just try and get in her way and see how I react, you'll have your answer. Do I believe in the idea that girls should have the option to play with toys from any aisle? Again, yes.

Didn't even have to pose them this way
But here is where we split paths; I have been watching her play for nine years, and I've noticed a few things. She likes pink. She loves to host tea parties and play dress-up. She has always loved princess things, but by no means does she notice the line on the floor in the toy store telling her that she can't walk down the science aisle. She doesn't see the sign on the door to the Lego country club telling her "boys only". She sees toys, and she will play with whatever she damn-well pleases. She's strong and independent, and that's just how she should be. 

In our house, Barbie and Spiderman are married and have a dozen pets (mostly horses and alligators). Barbie never gets tied to the rails to be saved, but tosses villains around like the Hulk on steroids. Superman and his Justice league call the Malibu Dreamhouse home as often as his long, ratted haired playmate does. And if a bulldozer is driven by Blythe from Littlest Pet Shop, no one bats an eye. Spirographs, telescopes, and bracelets are worked by both my son and daughter, and Lego bridges the gap as though there were none (and not just because of their "Friends" line)

And so, we come to the ultimate point: lets not paint "boys toys" pink. Lets instead make toys and set standards that those aisles can be crossed. Lets tear down the walls and let our children know that her Barbie can build a truck and his Batman can cook dinner. You want to shake things up? Great, but don't go raging against something by doing that which got you fired up to begin with.

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