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Linda Chavez
Linda Chavez
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Feminists Are Anti-Choice


Horror of horrors! Lego has introduced a new line of gender-specific toys aimed at girls. I might not even have become aware of the controversy had it not been a topic of discussion on the all-female PBS talk show "To the Contrary," on which I frequently appear. That we are still debating the pros and cons of allowing boys and girls to prefer different play choices says a great deal about the failure of the feminist movement.

Lego, which markets plastic building blocks for everything from "Star Wars" fighting vehicles to Egyptian pyramids, has now introduced a line aimed at young girls. The new toys include Butterfly Beauty Shop, Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery, and Olivia's House, all featuring recognizable girl figures with long hair and feminine outlines, unlike the squat, sexless figures that characterize many of the company's other building sets. More importantly, these toys depict girls engaging in traditionally female activities and roles: getting their hair done, baking, caring for children.

The company says that it has introduced the new line because of customer demand. Little girls (or their mothers) apparently aren't lining up to buy Lego's Fangpyre Wrecking Balls or Pirates of the Caribbean. But feminist critics say that the real motive is to reinforce gender stereotypes and limit little girls' aspirations.

In fact, it's the feminists who want to limit women's choices. Their message to girls and young women is: If you're not exactly like men, you don't believe in equal rights.

For much of the last 40 years, feminists have pushed to masculinize women. They have insisted that girls should want to become engineers, firefighters or athletes; that they should be as eager to engage in combat as men; that their careers should define them.

At the same time, feminists have taken on the task of feminizing males.

Boys should not be afraid of playing with dolls; they should learn to play nice; they should cooperate rather than compete with others. Men should share child-rearing, cooking, cleaning. They should be sensitive, learn to share their feelings, and value their emotional side as much as their rational one.

The feminist influence on Hollywood has replaced as an icon of female beauty the voluptuous and feminine Marilyn Monroe with the gaunt, well-muscled Hilary Swank, while jettisoning the ruggedly male Clint Eastwood for the softly feminine Jake Gyllenhaal. Feminists have ensured that textbooks depict women as astronauts and fighter pilots and rewrite history to glorify the role of even minor female figures at the expense of eliminating major accomplishments by males.

But despite the feminist movement's almost complete success in refashioning the terms of the cultural debate, feminists have not been able to convince most little girls to want to play with starfighters and missile launchers.

Having been a mother to three boys, a grandmother to six more, and a grandmother to three girls, I know that sex differences in personality, likes and dislikes are usually present from birth. While boys' and girls' preferences range along a broad spectrum, rare is the little boy who doesn't like to build things and then smash them up, and rare is the little girl who is as interested in doing so — especially the smashing-up part.

So why shouldn't a company that hopes to increase its market share take advantage of those differences? What's wrong with creating toys that'll have an appeal to customers who want to bake cupcakes and have their hair and nails done?

As long as we don't tell girls they should never choose the action figure over the princess or tell boys that they must play with guns and not dolls, we're not cutting off options for either gender. Real choice entails letting individuals — even young ones — gravitate toward what they want, not what ideologues wish them to prefer.

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



6 Comments | Post Comment
I strongly agree. I enjoy being a girly girl who gets her hair done, her nails manicured, etc. I also expect to be paid for what I do - not less than a man doing a similar job just because he has a penis. We must not lose sight of what is important. Potential! Choice! A girl's (or a boy's) potential or choice should not be ignored because of gender. We are people. There is variation is everything and that should be explored and celebrated.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Terri Risner
Fri Feb 3, 2012 4:50 AM
... so true ... however, I offer a bit more "spin" ...

The "masculization" of women stopped - after women realized that they didn't like the "boardroom" after they got there - and has long since become the "emasculization" of men in general and, even more, the corporate world as a whole.

Taking a page from the handbook of those that play the "race card" or the "gay card" when needed, the feminists have now taken to playing the "gender card" over harrassment and other "applicable" situations. While it will never happen, these feminists will not rest until it's against the law to act male in any way -- turkey baster conception, etc, etc. Not much fun for either gender.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Billy
Fri Feb 3, 2012 10:28 AM
You are missing the point. Here is the problem. Original Lego is gender neutral. Its shapes are symmetrical, its colors primary, its possibilities limited only by imagination. So far, a FANTASTIC toy. The problem is that because it is somewhat more math based-building and designing-it's deemed a "boy toy", but to make it a "girl toy" it's made pink and given traditional female roles-homemaker, cupcake baker, beauty. (and don't get my started on the problems inherent in teaching young girls that they should be thinking about beauty) You've basically taken a creative toy requiring imagination, and dumbed it down to make it marketable to girls.

NOW do you understand?

Comment: #3
Posted by: Walkie
Fri Feb 3, 2012 2:43 PM
Re: Walkie. I totally agree. Let's not get too far out about sanctioning toys. There is a long line of paranoid thinking about how capitalism corrupts and controls minds. Let's not get into the same game. If the market is free, and people can freely buy or reject, that is enough. That's one of the strongest pillars of democracy that exists.

Let the product sell if it meets our basic standards of acceptability, which it does. When folks left or right start criticizing with a tone that invites some sort of government intervention, it sends shivers up my spine.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Masako
Sat Feb 4, 2012 8:30 PM
Lego has not always been gender neutral. All the pirates and Star Wars themes sets marketed to boys, now they are marketing sets to girls based on popular demand. There is no wrong-doing here. Boys and girls are different. I'm going to by my little girl these legos. I think its a great idea. And if she dosen't like them, I'll buy her a Star Wars set. Of course then, I'll play with them too. Oh heck, I'll play with the girls sets too. I love legos.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Feb 6, 2012 11:28 AM
Great article!

Feminists need to understand that people should be free to choose. That means that in some cases men and women will choose different things. We shouldn't worry about statistical differences, only about social and legal prohibitions (girls should be allowed to choose whatever toy they want).
Comment: #6
Posted by: LPoall
Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:30 PM
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