On girls, colour and LEGO

“Mummy, green is a real boy colour, right?” The sound of four years’ struggle to avoid that precise question hovers heavily in the silence that follows. “No sweetheart, green is not a boy colour. Leaves are green, turtles are green and our couch is green. But boys are not”. The 4-year old sighs loudly and stomps back to her room tulle skirt fluttering, almost aware of the fact that I have evaded the actual question.

It is both refreshing and frustrating to sum up the gender debate in an answer that makes sense to a 4-year old. But I think I have to try. Not only because green is a remarkably beautiful colour, but for me the colour blindness is a catalyst to a gradual limitation of space, mentally if not physically. Pushed to extremes, today we excluded half the colour scale, tomorrow half the circle of friends and in time an abundance of potential interests.

The other day as I was leafing through a toy catalogue, it hit me why my daughter seeks to confirm her first prejudice. Hardly any toys are manufactured without a gender specific target group in mind.

Even good old LEGO has fallen into the gender trap. With LEGO friends girls can play with toy girls doing what girls love best: Shop, go to the hairdressers, the juicebar or the beach. Of course, there is also the jungle station, where girls get to tend sick animals (!) For the boys, the combat series Ninjago and Legends of Chima offer dragons, adventure and robots in multitudes.

And LEGO means business when they make separate toys for boys and girls. With a single exception, there are no female characters in the Ninjago series, just like there are no male characters in the Friends-boxes. Gender apartheid. I know who I am, because I know who I am not.

An why all this focus on separate LEGO series for girls and boys, when you can do what Maritsa Patrinos suggests and merely add one extra piece?:
Maritso Patrinos draws the missing piece

Back to the question. No matter what ideas my daughter brings home from kindergarten, luckily it is still me she turns to for advice. And she will have to put up with being told that there is no such thing as girl or boy colours, that her mother’s favourite colour is blue and that there are no limits to what girls or boys can do.

Even though LEGO and many other toy manufacturers fail, luckily it is still me, who call the shots. And of course there is still room for Olivia and her salon, but I think it wise to encourage that Olivia also ventures out on the back of a dragon once in a while. And in between fights warrior Flinx will have time to go to the juice bar in his pink convertible.

That being said, I will gladly let my four year old disappear on a mission to space in her pink spaceship covered in Elsa stickers and tulle knowing that the ship is loaded with more than LEGO Friends. With a little luck, she will come back from her cosmic adventure knowing that seen from space the earth is not pink but blue.

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