Ever heard of a prince with ‘an inclination to help’ a maiden in distress?

And now for my third blog on GoldieBlox…

The more I think about this one line describing the building toy created to appeal to girls, the more it gets to me. The Atlantic reports:

“Sterling’s basic conceit — that by playing to girls’ inclination to help and imbuing their designs with practical purpose she can get them designing and building.”

So the stereotype here is that girls are kind and sweet and just want to help people, or lambs, whatever; there is something uniquely feminine about “helping.” By the way, I would have absolutely no problem with this view of girls if it were true. My issue here, and my obsession with feminism in general, isn’t driven by a need for justice or even compassion for women. It’s that these stereotypes are bullshit. They are not true. And, personally, I don’t think basing entire civilizations on bullshit is, ultimately, good for anyone.

An “inclination to help” is a rescue fantasy. Different words, same thing. There is no gender split.

Rescue fantasies have existed in stories since the beginning of time. When stories are mostly written by males, it is often the case that females become the subject (or one could say, no doubt, object) to be rescued. What is brilliant about GoldieBlox is that instead of creating the story so that the female identifies with the little lambs who need saving, she gets to be the rescuer.

Ever heard of a prince with “an inclination to help” a maiden in distress? It sounds ridiculous, right?

There is no need, except for a sexist one, to use tamer words for narratives starring girls. All humans want to be actors, people who act, the main actors in our own lives; all humans have fantasies about being heroes. The gender difference is that far more often, males get to express and act on those fantasies.

6 thoughts on “Ever heard of a prince with ‘an inclination to help’ a maiden in distress?

  1. “So the stereotype here is that girls are kind and sweet and just want to help people, or lambs, whatever; there is something uniquely feminine about “helping.””

    I feel like “helping” is also code for “social”. As in, women are part of the structure of society. They are the moral centers. They bear children and raise them. There are complex networks of female friendships and other relationships. While men are individuals. They can cut themselves free of this network and go about their own selfish, heroic paths because they don’t have this “helpful” instinct.

    But I’d actually argue that there’s been more of a move towards the “prince with an inclination to help”. It’s less…”you, love object, I must acquire you” and more about “helping”. Not that it’s a significant shift or much of an improvement.

  2. “Easy Bake Oven for Boys”
    Because women are supposed to be in a kitchen, but when men do it it has somehow become an art form. $45.99 at Best Buy

    Childhood should allow opportunities but still gets rolled over by patriarchal dominance.
    Good blog!

  3. Don’t really agree that the “inclination to help” is a rescue fantasy. I believe it refers to wanting to help others, not wanting to be rescued. In fact, I would think you could stretch it to cover girls wanting to rescue others. So we see careers like teaching and nursing as natural paths for girls. Maybe I”m missing your point. God knows, people are missing my point on the post I published today. I’ll have to check out Goldieblox.

    I am struck by the difference in the Legos marketed primarily to boys and those “for girls.” The girl ones are all about friendship. The boy ones? Not so much! As mom to a boy, I was always angry that we encouraged nurturing and cooperation among girls and competition among boys. My son, btw, is very NON competitive. I don’t take credit for it; I think it’s his temperament.

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