Fuck you, Lego

After a petition signed by thousands of customers asking LEGO to build a female scientist series, after LEGO’s own contest winner was a female scientist toy, and after that toy was actually created and then sold out, news breaks that LEGO’s Research Institute is, in fact, a limited edition. That’s right, after just two weeks on the market, the female scientists will no longer be sold by major retailers at a competitive price.

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The female scientists are banished to become collector’s items.

The New York Times reports:

Within days of its appearance early this month, the Research Institute — a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist — sold out on Lego’s website and will not be available at major retailers, including Target and Walmart.

 

Toys “R” Us did carry the line, but according to associates reached by telephone at two of its New York stores, it sold out at those locations as well.

A Toys “R” Us spokeswoman, Kathleen Waugh, said in an email that it would be available in about a week at the company’s Times Square and F.A.O. Schwarz stores.

Lego said the set was manufactured as a limited edition, meaning it was not mass-produced. The true enthusiast can still buy the Research Institute at Amazon.com, however, but for about three times its $19.99 retail price.

So instead of launching a major marketing campaign for the scientists, the way they did for Friends, for example, showing non-stop ads on TV and creating mini-movies featuring the figs all over the internet, these scientists will be hidden from kidworld. The figs won’t be seen on T-shirts, shoes sold at Stride Rite, lunchboxes or cereal boxes. There is no upcoming blockbuster movie where a chemist, astronomer, and paleontologist are a team of brilliant, brave heroes fighting evil. No, instead, LEGO’s female scientists are destined to a similar fate as female superheroes, possible to find if parents scour the internet, but missing from your children’s daily life, not present in stores that sell kids’ clothing, books, and toys, a venue where our children will mostly likely have to settle for slave Leia

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or girls who hang out at the cafe or beauty salon.

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Almost since I started this blog, I’ve been writing about the ridiculously sexist stereotypes marketed to kids by LEGO. The problem for me is I see so much potential in this toy. It’s a great toy, but it’s so limited in what it creates. I’ve blogged about LEGO’s great gender inclusive ad from the early 80s,

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about how it’s challenging for LEGO to make sets with females when movies like “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” don’t feature females, the Minority Feisty in LEGO’s own movie, I posted a letter sent to me by 14 year old girl complaining to the company that got 10,000 hits in hours on my site; I’ve written about sexism for Jezebel, I’ve been on Fox News and Huffington Post Live, and I’ve spent countless hours advocating through social media to put powerful and diverse female heroes in toys. I have three daughters who I’d love to buy these kinds of LEGO toys for, and I keep thinking the company is going to get it and change. It’s such an obvious win-win: LEGO makes money, kids get toys that don’t teach them gender stereotypes. But this latest move retracting a sold out toy, a toy that won a popular contest and was also driven by a petition with so many signatures is too much for me. I’m sick of LEGO opting to let social media gender equality advocates do their marketing for them. I’m not getting anything out of this relationship. Yes, you met with us once, but now I feel teased, manipulated, lied to, and dumped. I have nothing left to write but fuck you, LEGO, or, better said in the words of my eleven year old daughter’s idol, the great poet of break ups, Taylor Swift, we are never, ever getting back together.

Swift’s lyrics:

I remember when we broke up the first time
Saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough,” ’cause like
We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, “I hate you,” we break up, you call me, “I love you.”Ooh, we called it off again last night
But ooh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling youWe are never ever ever getting back together,
We are never ever ever getting back together,
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherLike, ever…I’m really gonna miss you picking fights
And me falling for it screaming that I’m right
And you would hide away and find your peace of mind
With some indie record that’s much cooler than mineOoh, you called me up again tonight
But ooh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling youWe are never, ever, ever getting back together
We are never, ever, ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me (talk to me)
But we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherOoh, yeah, ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Oh oh ohI used to think that we were forever ever
And I used to say, “Never say never…”
Uggg… so he calls me up and he’s like, “I still love you,”
And I’m like… “I just… I mean this is exhausting, you know, like,
We are never getting back together. Like, ever”No!We are never ever ever getting back together
We are never ever ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherWe, ooh, getting back together, ohhh,
We, ooh, getting back togetherYou go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me (talk to me)
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together

Reel Girl going on vacation!

I’m going on vacation with my family. You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging that much lately because I’ve been using all my free time to try and get ready to go. My goal is to stay off the internet while I’m gone and just hang with my husband and kids, but we’ll see how that goes. Have a great summer. See you in August.

Margot

Join the dissent

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Do you agree with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Do something. Don’t stand by and watch women continue to be denied human rights. Tell Washington that the U.S. government is discriminating against women and that is not acceptable in America. Sign the petition from Planned Parenthood and please give money. If we all do something and take action, we can create change.

The letter from Planned Parenthood is pasted here, follow the links at the bottom to sign it and to give money.

Subject: JOIN THE DISSENT

To The Supreme Court:

To the five members of the Supreme Court who have given bosses — based on their own personal beliefs — the power to deny women coverage for birth control:

I dissent. Your ruling is an insult to the generations of women who have fought for control over their own bodies and their own futures. It is a step backward, and a threat to the future of women’s health and rights in America.

To employers like Hobby Lobby, who believe that their personal beliefs are more important than women’s fundamental rights:

I dissent. Religious freedom means that every person should be allowed to follow her own conscience, whether she owns a company or works for an hourly wage. Women earn health care coverage the same way they earn a paycheck — and they shouldn’t have it taken away because of the personal views of their employers.

To the politicians who support the Supreme Court’s decision — and want to go even further to deny more women access to birth control:

I dissent. I will continue to fight for the right of every woman to make her own private medical decisions without interference from anyone — not her boss, not politicians, not the Supreme Court. I call on lawmakers at every level to take immediate action to protect women’s access to health care no matter what their bosses say.

This is about our health and our lives. This is about our fundamental right to have control over our own bodies. This is about justice. And I’m not done fighting back.

Signed,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

 

Follow this link to sign the petition and to donate funds.

Religious orgs want exemption from LGBT hiring order

The Talking Point Memo reports:

The letter, first reported by The Atlantic, was sent on Tuesday by 14 representatives, including the president of Gordon College, an Erie County, Pa., executive and the national faith vote director for Obama for America 2012, of the faith community.

 

“Without a robust religious exemption,” they wrote, “this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”

 

The leaders noted that the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act included a religious exemption:

 

“Our concern about an executive order without a religious exemption is about more than the direct financial impact on religious organizations. While the nation has undergone incredible social and legal change over the last decade, we still live in a nation with different beliefs about sexuality. We must find a way to respect diversity of opinion on this issue in a way that respects the dignity of all parties to the best of our ability. There is no perfect solution that will make all parties completely happy.”

 

This is exactly what I just blogged about would happen, should and must happen, because it makes no sense to discriminate against one group because of “religious freedom” and not be allowed to discriminate against any group.
Here’s what I wrote a couple days ago:

Pregnancy is a medical condition, birth control is preventative health care

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Pregnancy is a medical condition. I had an emergency c-section with my first child, not a rare end to a pregnancy in the USA. Pregnancy related diseases include ectopic pregnancies (also life-risking), blood clots, urinary tract infections, thrush, severe back pain, and the list goes on.

How is it that the Supreme Court of the USA decided today that businesses do not have to cover health care for women? Freedom of religion? Seriously? So why do Christian Scientist parents get prosecuted by our courts for not taking their children to get treatment? Why isn’t that “choice” freedom of religion?

Why is it OK for religions to decree that women cannot have health care but it is not OK for them to demand that gay employees or black employees don’t get health care? Female bodies are different than male bodies and require different medical treatment. Why is it OK to deny one gender the medical treatment that their bodies require? Is the reason that sex is optional, therefore the medical condition of pregnancy is optional, therefore preventative health care is not required by law? Putting aside the situation of rape (which is just “rape hysteria” anyway, right) are we saying that medical conditions created by optional behavior should not receive health care? So if I choose to go skiing and break my leg, I shouldn’t get my health care paid for by my employer? If I choose to go on a hike and get bit by a tic, my employer should not be required to pay for treatment for my lyme disease?

I am ashamed to be an American today.

(I’m still wondering about Christian Scientists, by the way. Why should a Christian Scientist business leader be forced to pay medical expenses for any employee? Especially one who would be willing to let her own child die for that belief?)

 

 

My 10 yr old reviews ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

All I have to say is: Oh my God, how could anyone read this spellbinding book and not like it?

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The protagonist in the story, Hazel Grace Lancaster, is smart and outgoing but suffers from lung cancer. No one can read this book without bursting in to tears, and that’s good. If you have read this book and, like all humans, have cried, you felt a connection to the characters in John Green’s story.

This is probably my favorite book and movie ever, because the heroine, Hazel Grace, has to deal with so much when she’s only 17. Augustus Waters, Hazel’s boyfriend, always tells her she’s beautiful. That’s not all he tells her. He always says how amazing she is and how smart she is, because he knows she is so much more than another pretty face. I think this book is amazing and like my mom always does, I rate it HHH. I thought about what i was going to rate this, and it took some time to decide, but it really deserves a triple H. I have been wondering why I love this book so much and I have come up with a couple of reasons.

  1. It makes you feel as if you are there and you’re watching it all happen.
  2. It is written beautifully and has cliff hangers. I guarantee you’ll never get bored once in this book.

I was so connected to Hazel Grace, I felt like she was my sister, that I already knew everything about her before I met her.

If you have not read this enchanting book read it now, and you wont have any regrets. Some helpful advice: bring tissues when you do, trust me you’ll need them.

 

Fellows from conservative think tanks hold conference on rape “hysteria”

The conservative Independent Women’s Forum held a conference last week called “Rape Cultural and Sexual Assault.”

I’m going to go through the press release, beginning with the opening:

The White House has embraced the statistic that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college…

 

Embraced is not the verb I would use. Do you know how hard it’s been and how many years we have been working to get the U.S. government to acknowledge that violence against women is epidemic is the USA?

The White House has released its “first ever report” on the issue and are using it to push their policy agenda…

 

Think the IWF put “first ever report” in scare quotes because it’s such a silly concept or because it’s so shocking that its taken until 2014 for the U.S. government to take note that its most honored educational institutions are not protecting female students?

“Push their policy agenda”? Which is…um… human rights for women?

But many question the validity of the White House’s one-in-five statistic, even as those who challenge this figure are silenced as being uncaring about women…

 

Would that “silencing” be referring to George Will who questioned the stat in the Washington Post in his syndicated column that runs in newspapers all over this country, where he also called rape survivors “a coveted status that confers privilege”? About the stat, Will wrote:

The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20 percent.

 

To which Jezebel responded:

Rape is underreported, here is how many women reported being raped, therefore rape is overreported. These reports are flawed! Can’t you tell by these flawed reports? Your honor, I rest my case.

 

Who reads Jezebel by the way? Same influential, power-playing crowd who reads Reel Girl? Unlike Will, Jezebel hasn’t won a Pulitzer yet, but I’m sure it’ll receive that international honored any day now. Continuing with this theme of “silencing,” a feminist responded to Will’s column, writing in the Huffington Post:

At its most basic level, as a scholar who has studied violence against women for 20 years, I’m struck that neither I nor any of my colleagues who have devoted decades to producing the best research on these issues has ever had the opportunity to tell the story in this way in such a prestigious outlet as The Washington Post. Instead we are relegated to the back pages of online outlets like The Huffington Post and Slate.com. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful that my voice can be heard in these outlets, but I’m also painfully aware that millions more people, and especially people (men) with privilege, read The Washington Post than The Huffington Post blog pages…

 

But back to the IWF press release. Next line:

The IWF takes any accusation of sexual assault very seriously. But we are concerned that there is a potentially harmful hysteria developing about this issue. Where does this come from? Where is it going? And who will be harmed?

In 2014, we are still using the word hysteria around women’s issues? Hysteria, in case you don’t know, comes from the Greek word “hyster” for womb, the “ancient” belief being that women are crazy because they have wombs. A better word for America’s response to rape might be apathy.

So who is on the IWF panel? If you watch news channels or read news media,  you know these “experts” and the prestigious think tanks they’re affiliated with: Christina Hoff Summers is an author and Fellow of the America Enterprise Institute; Stuart Taylor is an author and a Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Cathy Young is a columnist for Newsday;  Andrea Bottner is a lawyer and a former director of the Office of International Women’s Issues for the Bush Administration. It’s great to know that Bush put someone in the USA in charge of international women’s issues who believes in rape hysteria.

 

Straight Talk Panel on “Rape Culture” and Sexual Assault – See more at: http://iwf.org/media/2794316/#sthash.GOGH0pTl.dpuf

Pregnancy is a medical condition, birth control is preventative health care

Pregnancy is a medical condition. I had an emergency c-section with my first child, not a rare end to a pregnancy in the USA. Pregnancy related diseases include ectopic pregnancies (also life-risking), blood clots, urinary tract infections, thrush, severe back pain, and the list goes on.

How is it that the Supreme Court of the USA decided today that businesses do not have to cover health care for women? Freedom of religion? Seriously? So why do Christian Scientist parents get prosecuted by our courts for not taking their children to get treatment? Why isn’t that “choice” freedom of religion?

Why is it OK for religions to decree that women cannot have health care but it is not OK for them to demand that gay employees or black employees don’t get health care? Female bodies are different than male bodies and require different medical treatment. Why is it OK to deny one gender the medical treatment that their bodies require? Is the reason that sex is optional, therefore the medical condition of pregnancy is optional, therefore preventative health care is not required by law? Putting aside the situation of rape (which is just “rape hysteria” anyway, right) are we saying that medical conditions created by optional behavior should not receive health care? So if I choose to go skiing and break my leg, I shouldn’t get my health care paid for by my employer? If I choose to go on a hike and get bit by a tic, my employer should not be required to pay for treatment for my lyme disease?

I am ashamed to be an American today.

 

What’s wrong with this passage from ‘The Lost Hero’ by Rick Riordan?

This morning I was reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan out loud to my 7 year old daughter.

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Like her sister before her, she is obsessed with Riordan’s series. I, too, am a huge fan. The pacing is perfect. The characters are smart, funny, and brave. The writing is great. But I’ve got a an issue with the books. As I always blog on Reel Girl, if the pattern in The Lost Hero were in just one book, or even half the books, it would not be a problem for me, or for my kids, or for kids in general. My problem is the repetition of the same old, same old in narrative after narrative after narrative. Read this passage and see if you can tell me what my objection to Riordan is:

“There’s four of us,” Hedge whispered urgently. “And only one of him.”

“Did you miss the fact that he’s thirty feet tall?” Leo asked.

“Okay,” Hedge said. “So, you, me and Jason distract him. Piper sneaks around and frees her dad.”

They all looked at Jason.

“What?” Jason said. “I’m not the leader.”

“Yes,” Piper said. “You are.”

They’d never really talked about it but no one disagreed, not even Hedge. Coming this far had been a team effort, but when it came to a life-and-death decision, Leo knew Jason was the one to ask. Even if he had no memory, Jason had a kind of balance to him. You could just tell he’d been in battles before, and he knew how to keep his cool.  Leo wasn’t exactly the trusting type but he trusted Jason with his life.

 

‘The privilege, indeed the right, to tell the story’

Who gets to tell the story? Whose voice gets to be heard?

In the Huffington Post, Angela J. Hattery, a professor of gender studies at George Mason University, writes about the columns by George Will and Brad Wilcox about women, sex, and rape in the Washington Post:

 

I’m going to take a different approach and interrogate the simple fact that both columns illustrate yet another way in which privilege works; the privilege to have one’s voice heard and the privilege, indeed the right, to tell the story.

 

At its most basic level, as a scholar who has studied violence against women for 20 years, I’m struck that neither I nor any of my colleagues who have devoted decades to producing the best research on these issues has ever had the opportunity to tell the story in this way in such a prestigious outlet as The Washington Post. Instead we are relegated to the back pages of online outlets like The Huffington Post and Slate.com. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful that my voice can be heard in these outlets, but I’m also painfully aware that millions more people, and especially people (men) with privilege, read The Washington Post than The Huffington Post blog pages…

 

Why, because a key element of privilege is the power to write the narrative and to write it in a way that reinforces the privileges of those who already have it, in this case white, upper middle class, professional men.

 

I write a blog about gender and children’s media. I started my blog because as soon as I had one daughter, and then two more, I was shocked and disgusted by how gendered their world was. Every day, being a mother, I continue to be amazed that this kind of gender segregation and stereotyping exists in a world created for children. I continue to be amazed that progressive and educated parents, in San Francisco no less, seem to be almost oblivious to the sexism focused on their children.

Today, I was at a house with a game room for kids. In the room were several arcade games from the 80s. I snapped some photos of all of the females I found on the games:

Simpson’s pinball:

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More Simpsons pinball:

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Ms. Pacman

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Donkey Kong:

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What is the story that is getting told here? Again and again and again?

Children learn through images, text, experience, and repetition. Brains get wired up when we’re little and those paths get harder and harder to change. Just one example: the other day my husband told my children that America’s diversity is a consequence of so many people settling here. My  children freaked out that he said “consequence” because, to my children, “consequence” is a negative word, it’s basically used like “punishment.” My husband and I talked about my kids’ reaction and decided that they were right, “consequence” is a negative word. “Outcome” is a more neutral word. But the point is that our language is charged, images are charged, and narratives are charged. The very best hope we can offer kids is diversity of stories, not repeating these same images and words over and over and over. It limits us, and it limits a new generation.

When and how are we going to untangle our reality from those who have been telling the story for so many thousands of years?

George Will has no authority to write about rape in the Washington Post. That he does, that this is “normal” and accepted in 2014 speaks to how terribly backwards we are in America when it comes to women and equality.

 

 

Pepperidge Farm introduces Princess Goldfish, gendering kids’ food reaches new low

They’re new, they’re pink, and they’re perfect for your daughters! Princess Goldfish are finally here. Just got this Tweet from Josy Daras:

did you know they’ve gendered GOLDFISH? My son wanted them, so here they are.

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I love that her son wanted them. Can you fucking deal with this– gendered goldfish? We have sunk to a new low. Barely. Here’s what I blogged in March 2012:

Hey Goldfish Snack Crackers, girls aren’t a minority

My daughter is home sick today. She’s lying on the couch, watching TV, and eating Parmesan Goldfish. An ad for Goldfish crackers came on. She thought that coincidence was pretty hilarious. She held up one of her crackers and said, “Hi!” to the Goldfish on TV. Then she looked at down at the package. “Who are mine?” she wanted to know.

 

goldfish

They are: Xtreme, Gilbert, Brooke, and Finn.

I know what you’re thinking: Xtreme must be female, right? Or maybe Finn? Pepperidge Farm would never put 3 males and 1 female on a package. So, I went to Wikipedia. Check out these character descriptions:

  • Finn- A cheddar flavored goldfish that wears sunglasses (though not in the commercials).
  • Gilbert- A pretzel goldfish that tends to be a worrier.
  • Brooke- The beautiful and intelligent parmesan flavored goldfish and the only female member of the goldfish club until both Candace and Coral showed up.
  • Xtreme- A flavor-blasted fish who enjoys doing crazy stunts. His real (and embarrassing) name is Fumbleton.
  • Swimmington Von Stuffington III Esquire- Xtreme’s snobby older brother.
  • IQ- A honey graham fish who wears eyeglasses lives in the vacuum and befriends Gilbert and helps him escape out of the vacuum.
  • Candace- A pink fish who wears a red bow on her head and has a small blue star on her tail fin. She has a crush on Gilbert. Candace is also the winner of the “Finn’s New Friend” contest.
  • Coral- A chocolate graham and fun-spirited fish with a Southern accent who currently befriends the club. She is possibly somewhat of a tomboy.

When I created this blog, I wrote that I was going to rate kids media and toys. I never considered blogging about sexism in food. Reese’s Puffs, Special K, M & Ms, and Goldfish have, unfortunately, changed my mind.

My daughter and I made up different names and stories for the Goldfish, of course. But don’t start telling me it’s a free country, and we can just make up anything we like. I’m a creative person, and I struggle with this. Give me something to work with here, Pepperidge Farm! I’m also, like most moms, busy. Can’t I just read the damn names off the bag?

It would be so much easier to foster creativity in kids (and the adults that they will become) if we weren’t mired with the same old, same old ridiculous, gender-stereotyped narratives at every turn.

 

A year later, I posted this:

M &Ms, Goldfish, cereal boxes, and the Minority Feisty

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I know you probably think I’ve gone over the deep end with all the vitriol I’ve expressed towards M & Ms for presenting its female characters as a high heeled, kissy-lipped minority.

MM_spokescandies

But the problem here is that this same old image and narrative is everywhere in kidworld. Whose kids eat Goldfish? Here’s our package:

goldfish

There it is again: Brooke, the Minority Feisty.

And kids cereal? Even Raj of “Big Bang Theory.” Raj said he’d done the research and there are no female cereal box characters at all.

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What happens to kids when they grow up saturated in a world where everywhere they look, girls go missing?