This is how fucked up kidworld has become. Finally, parents are catching on that gender stereotyping children limits potential. So what do we get? An anti-everything pink and princess themed ad, which is great, selling a princess themed toy. WTF?
Here’s the ad.
Here’s the toy, which isn’t so great. “In this much-anticipated sequel, Goldie’s friends Ruby and Katinka compete in a princess pageant with the hopes of riding in the town parade. When Katinka loses the crown, Goldie and Ruby team up to build her a parade float as well as other fun rolling, spinning, and whirling designs.”
Read this blog by Rebecca Hains to learn more. “I have been rooting for GoldieBlox since their Kickstarter days, and I love their mission to break stereotypes and spark a love of STEM in girls. But by pandering to princess culture, this new offering just isn’t living up to the promise.”
Melissa Wardy also has a great blog on this: “You cannot create a toy meant to break down stereotypes when you start off with the ideal that ‘we know all girls love princesses.’ ”
Another good one here (though I think it’s fine to change sexist lyrics and make them your own.) Goldie Blox, no thanks. “It’s the same dumb-downed princess bullshit as the rest of the stuff they are shoving down the throats of our daughters.”
I am pretty sure I gave money to Goldie Blox’s Kickstarter campaign. I know I intended to, but I’m not positive I followed through. I certainly promoted the toy in its earliest days on Reel Girl’s blog, Facebook page, an my Twitter feed.
Once again, I like the Goldie Blox ad. I understand the product is supposed to be a step towards getting girls interested in engineering, but this doublespeak makes me feel like I’m being taken for a ride on a big, old float right down Main Street. I would not have given money or promoted a toy like the one above. I don’t know if Goldie Blox’s “success” made it become this or if this was this always the intention. Maybe, like someone on Reel Girl’s Facebook page writes, Goldie Blox is trying to “straddle the market.” If so, that kind of risk-free, inauthentic approach appeals to me even less than the product.
The toy box shown at the end of the ad is Goldie Blox and the spinning machine. You could argue that the Goldie Blox princess is just one image, or one character, of many. But what I thought is that this brand was going to be different. In a market saturated with princess/ pageant narratives, Goldie Blox was going to stand out as moving beyond stereotypes, not just in some products, some of the time. Maybe I misunderstood the message, but aren’t parents seeing this ad misunderstanding it as well?
Here are 4 previous blogs I’ve written about Goldie Blox where you can see how I progressively begin to question what is being created and sold to kids. One of the lines in the adoring media that really creeps me out states that those sweet, caring girls have “an inclination to help.” In boyspeak, we call that same impulse something more heroic: “a rescue fantasy.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if toys, and the language used to market them, was created for humans, not stereotypes?
‘The thing is, 89% of engineers are male, so we literally live in a man’s world’
GoldieBlox: new building toy created around a narrative with female protagonist
Ever heard of a prince with ‘an inclination to help’ a maiden in distress?
Toy companies start marketing sexism as progressive
Pingback: Are good intentions enough? The gendered toy edition – Kitchen Table Sociology
Here is what I posted on the GoldieBlox Facebook page. It was removed of course – so I left a review on Target’s website.
“I bought my great niece “GoldieBlox and the Parade Float”. When I opened the book that comes with it and read “It’s the biggest event of the school year. The Miss Princess Pageant is finally here!” I literally got sick to my stomach. “The biggest event of the year”? Really??? It couldn’t have been the Science Fair or ANYTHING else? MISS – really? PRINCESS – isn’t she supposed to be more than that? (Their slogan is “More than a Princess”) PAGEANT – What life skills are connected to that? The next page lets us know that if she wins the crown, she’ll get to ride a parade float. Seriously, all the time spent practicing curtsies (a thousand times) is sure to give her success in life. Now the catty, evil, conniving, FEMALE, pearl necklace wearing dolphin (why would you vilify a dolphin?), shows up to reinforce the FALSE message that girls are back stabbing and female competitiveness is all about pageants and beauty – and “look at me, look at me”. Then, meek, unattractive, MISS (Miss, again) Swanfeather gets her WIG knocked off. Who the hell is writing this crap? Good thing the angry jewish guy “Saul” has a voice (Why not call him Mr. Goldberg?) to control those girls. All hail MISS Ruby the winner (pout, pout). All of that for the line “But she was most proud of the parade float that she helped build”. More proud than being able to curtsy? Wow.”
Princesses aren’t my thing – but I’m not anti-Princess (because my 4 year old niece likes them). But where is the MORE THAN A PRINCESS??? Or fun instructions for building?
Pingback: Origin Stories: A History Of Rube Goldberg Machines, And A List Of The Best | Junkee
Pingback: Weekly Roundup | The Bubble Chamber
Pingback: The Commodification of Girls « Feminist Nonfiction
I need to continue the thread here. Of course toymakers should stop pigeon holing children. Here is the blog I was discussing in my earlier post where you say: ” I guess I get so happy at any progress.” http://reelgirl.com/2013/05/epic-features-cool-heroine-celebrates-matriarchy/
I’m not trying to discount your valid arguments, but rather to highlight how difficult this is for women trying to make a difference (The copyright stuff does piss me off).
I guess some crumbs are better than others. The pageant/ princess crumb in a toy made for girls is just not one I can lick off the floor.
Margot – your message was such a shock to me – I couldn’t believe it as we bought Goldieblox #1 for our daughter last year and loved it. It’s killing me that every single one of my awesome, feminist friends keep posting on Facebook how amazing it is (which I think the first one was). So disappointing.
It’s a bummer. When people send me the ad, I post this link. Did you see their response, in another of my posts? I wish they would just live up to their message. I am now feeling like the product is actually setting us back, though I still like the ad.
Because if your girl DOES like princess stuff, then Goldieblox can’t reach out to her as well and maybe even put a new princess narrative in her line of sight? Are you saying Goldieblox should ONLY market to the anti-princess crowd? I’m raising daughters who’re given limitless choices with regards to who they want to be or what they’re interested in: Gender neutral, girly, and masculine haircuts, clothing, and toys have all been worn and tried out in this home without judgment. If my daughter wants to wear a pink fluffy tutu while catching bugs in the yard, it’s cool. If she wants the Goldieblox set with a girl in a crown on the front, also cool. I have another daughter who won’t touch anything pink or sparkly or otherwise “girly,” and they’re being raised under the same set of circumstances. I’m not going to tell one daughter that her desire to be a princess sometimes makes her “less than” her sister. I will continue to speak with my daughters about the different options available to them, what is being marketed AT them and why, gender and racial stereotypes, and still allow them to just be themselves. In my girl’s world, a princess is powerful, she has fun, she does things her own way, she saves the day time and again, and I certainly won’t tell her that’s not the “real” princess narrative. Telling a girl that she SHOULDN’T be a princess isn’t any better than telling her she SHOULD.
As I’ve blogged, I thought Goldie Blox was an alternative toy that was ‘disrupting the pink aisle.’ If Goldie Blox didn’t advertise and promote itself as this, the hypocrisy would not be an issue. A princess pageant competition isn’t disrupting the pink aisle. The market is dominated by a message telling girls they should be princesses, so here is more of the same.
Here’s a another blog I wrote in response to Goldie Blox arguing they don’t want to ‘denigrate femininity.’ There are just too many gender stereotypes promoted in this product for me.
Great point Gloria. I’d like to add to that by pointing out that the “princess” isn’t even the main character (nor is she a princess since she didn’t win the pageant). At the end of the day, Goldie (the main character) is building a float (the main activity) for a friend who happens to be a pageant “princess”.
That story line was probably chosen so that a princess character could be included on the box in order to make a building toy appealing to children like your daughter who happens to like princesses.
If the overall aim is to expose as much girls as possible to STEM related toys, it makes sense not to just try to capture the girls who dislike princesses but to also appeal to the little girls that do like princesses while indicating that they don’t need to be one (a princess).
To me it’s more important to the over all mission to expose as much girls as possible to these kinds of toys (while maintaining that their options are not limited to being princesses), than it is important to appease a purist ideology (anti pink or anti princess).
I think that This approach is more inclusive and as such can reach and help more little girls.
If Goldie Blox wants to make princess toys, fine, but then don’t promote/ advertise yourself as ‘disrupting the pink aisle.’
They are STILL disrupting the pink aisle. Just because ONE character in ONE of the narratives is wearing a crown doesn’t discredit the entire line of Goldiblox, particularly since the princess in this narrative IS the black girl, which another commenter makes the perfectly good point about happening so rarely. Good grief. I still don’t understand the furor. I don’t believe that Goldiblox is or was meant to be marketed to ONLY the anti-princess crowd. At the end of the day, they want a product that is successful and reaches a broad base and introduces as many girls as possible to STEM toys because we WANT and NEED more girls who’ll become women in science, math, and engineering, regardless of whether they’re in the princess-loving crowd or not, and we’re all still free to buy it or to continue buying STEM toys that have been marketed only to boys.
You know, there’s an obvious marketing blunder here. LEGO Friends was marketed to parents who wanted their princess-loving daughters to play with LEGOs. But Goldiblox is being marketed to girls who do NOT like pink princess stuff. So why make a set about princesses, or, if it really isn’t about princesses, why put “Princess” so prominently on the cover and in the name? That doesn’t seem to make sense.
You’re totally right. It makes me prefer LEGO Friends in a way.
“Black girls are rarely the true princess with the white best friend who isn’t jealous, but truly wants to help her by building something she needs (not just lending her a dress). When was the last time you saw this storyline? I’m going with never for myself.”
This is a terrific point, which i have not seen mentioned in any of the Goldiblox coverage. thanks Dr. Paugh!
I’m white, so maybe that’s the issue here, but I don’t relate. To me, as I wrote, that’s like saying fat women can have beauty contests because they’re pretty too. It just misses the point.
Oh, I completely understand, but it seems that this story is both progressive on the race front, while hopelessly retrograde on the gender one. It’s not the princess part I like, but the radical concept of having a black character drive the narrative, and a white one in the supportive role.
Agree that’s not a narrative we see and that it needs to be seen, but I hate the notion of being grateful for these crumbs.
That’s interesting… When I mentioned how I thought M.K. in the film Epic was always being saved my males, should have had a mother scientist role model and endured unwanted physical advances, you seemed to think that these crumbs were worthy.
I see the anger and disappointment over this new iteration of the toy, but I also agree with some of the other posters in that parenting choices have a lot to do with how girls see themselves. My mom always told me I could to anything and now I’m getting my PhD as a first generation college student. I played with all kinds of toys including in the dirt OUTSIDE.
I feel that this debate will discourage other women who are trying to make STEM more appealing to girls, and that’s too bad.
I hope this debate will encourage toymakers to get to the root of the issue of gender stereotyping and make better toys.
I dont follow the point of your first line.
We have the first Goldie Blox toy. And would I prefer it not be pink and purple? Yes. But the majority of it is not. It’s mostly blue and yellow. It features a sloth and a bear in a suit and dog named Nacho.
The story is not a princess story. It’s a girl in overalls with a tool belt. Anyway, we’ve read it once. I have 3 girls 4 boys. All of my children play with this set, mixing it with Makedo crap.
I agree with your premise, but honestly this is NOT a princess toy. It is a creative, building toy. Even if there is a princess character introduced in the new set, so what? This is an uninformed overreaction.
There are so many princess themed toys in this market. Goldie Blox presented itself as something different than the pink aisle. If it is going to brand itself as alternative, turning around and selling princess culture is hypocritical. I like this comment from Melissa Wardy: “Let’s also note, after losing the princess pageant, Katinka and the gang aren’t saying “Forget this, let’s go build box cars and race them down the biggest hill we can find.” No, the story is that she must be a princess by any means necessary. I’m just not buying it.”
I totally understand the disappointment. I’m just giving my real world experience with this toy. My point is that the stories are horrible and broing. Before I even finished the story, my girls had taken the toy to the other room and were messing around with it. The story/book is such a small piece of the play experience.
I rage monthly at Lego for the fact that there are ZERO girls in their magazine. I vowed to never buy a Lego Friends set. But, my five and seven yr old daughters saved money from a business they had set up and purchased one. The horse camp one. The horse camp was assembled and blown up in within an hour of building. The Lego friends rule over the boys’ other minifigs because of their superior size. Whole new games are created with no regard for the marketer’s plans.
As for the princess thing? I have an 11 yr old daughter whose hair is shorter than her brothers’ and now lives in Chuck Taylors. While my five year old loves all things “girly.” She likes princesses, clothes, manicures, etc. Both are OK. That’s how I see these sets. One set is Chuck Taylors, the other is manicures. Not that my daughters have to be one or the other or anything that a corporation tells her to be, but be who they are.
I hate jewelry, high heels, purses, makeup, etc. But, that doesn’t mean that someone else can’t like them. I feel like in some ways we are maybe pushing too far the other way and telling girls again who they should be. I fight the overall message. My daughters (and sons) are educated about the message being shoved down their throats about womanhood. But, I really feel like this particular toy is maybe getting too harsh of a beating. It’s a good toy.
I am so glad that I am not the only one who has problems with GoldieBlox’s message. I would be okay if 1) parents attempt to engage the girls first with gender-neutral toys but fail to engage interests and 2) parents introduce some stories and narratives to the gender-neutral toys and still fail to engage interests. I see many parents not doing these first and jump right on the GoldieBlox band wagon. What’s frustrating is that this is now propagating gender-specific toys further – creating demands for gender-specific engineering toys, while there are already plenty of good, gender-neutral theme toys out there. I also prefer the suggestion by another blogger: introducing more colours to gender-neutral toys, or adding narratives to them, instead of making something pink with a story about princesses and then say that it is for girls. (http://www.spydergrrl.com/2013/07/why-i-wont-be-buying-gender-segregating.html)
I wrote my own take on gender-specific toys as well on my blog. I grew up playing with Barbies and Lego and Transformers – my parents never instructed me that I should like one or another, or buy specific types of toys only because it is for girls. (http://scienceichooseyou.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/when-our-toys-tell-kids-who-they-should-be-on-gender-stereotypes-and-gender-segregated-toys/)
While I agree with the ad 100%, and I understand some women’s desire to erase pink&princess from the universe, women who are not in STEM sometimes with this point. It is only when pink & princess are the only or are in any way made to be inferior choices that there is a problem with girl’s imaginations being limited. A pink bucket has the same physics properties as a blue one or any other color, for that matter. This something the girls in the ad are discovering, by putting different colored objects in their Rube-Goldberg machine.
Being girly and being geeky are not mutually exclusive. Ask any woman actually in a STEM field if wanting to feel or actually feeling like a princess affects lab data or performing experiments or getting a job done. A pink lab coat works as well as a white one. It’s only when women are forced to wear pink and / discriminated against when they choose it does a pink problem arise.
Meeting girls where they come out of the Disney princess haze, it seems to me, is what this ad is about. The girls start and end their process with the pink toys they’ve been given. This indicates that they don’t had to give up the ones they like, they are free to expand to use anything of any color that is hanging around the house, a metaphor for anything that exists in the world. That’s just the truth about girls’s freedom, whether anyone else acknowledges it or not.
One more thing about the toy with the princess theme coming out. The box shows a little black girl with a crown and a little white girl helping her to build a float so she can be a princess in the parade. Before any white woman starts complaining about too many little girls being steered towards princess land, hold up. That marketing is primarily if not almost exclusively do towards white girls. (How many years and white princesses passed black girls by before there was a black Disney princess – who spent most of the movie as a frog?) Black girls are rarely the true princess with the white best friend who isn’t jealous, but truly wants to help her by building something she needs (not just lending her a dress). When was the last time you saw this storyline? I’n going with never for myself.
I am 100% on board with complaints when women are being limited by there roles in the media! and I agree that has a bad effect on girls. Just remember that girls are harmed more by never seeing a STEM woman in real life or in the media than going through a pink phase in which they use all their princess gifts to build an awesome machine. And girls of color have very different experiences in life and in the media, so consider that before you speak out against a little black princess.
Your comment reminds me of when people tell me I should be grateful toys aren’t Monster High, or that there is a Minority Feisty in a movie, or a a beauty contest for fat girls. Those are the choices? I don’t want crumbs. I don’t want my kids, and a whole new generation of kids, to want crumbs.
If you think that I am saying that you should be grateful for Monster High, then I did not express myself well at all. Girly and Geeky are not mutually exclusive. It’s a subtle point, I know but not everything pink in bad. It’s only when pink is the only choice or and inferior choice that it becomes a real problem. There is no need to tell girls who actually like pink that there is something wrong with them. They can like pink and every other color. They can want to be princesses and rocket scientists. By harping on every princess, instead of boosting every STEM woman role model, you’ll be full of rhetoric and the world will still be missing women scientists and engineers.
Just a note to correct the typos in the post above.
“women who are not in STEM sometimes miss this point”
“This is something the girls in the ad are discovering”
“It’s only when women are forced to wear pink and / or are discriminated”
“This indicates that they don’t have to give up the ones they like”
“That marketing is done almost exclusively”
“I’m going with never”
“I’m 100% on board with complaints when women are limited by their roles in the media and I agree”
That iPad autocorrect strikes again.
I just wanted to make sure that my points weren’t misunderstood because of typos.
Disgraceful, Vanessa. I would never be so careless as to post typos.
From your second post on Goldie Blox, this observation gets me every time:
“Girls are no more kind-hearted or sweet than boys are. Girls do need a purpose and a narrative but boys do too. The gender difference is that boys pick up that narrative from the world around them, everywhere they look, males solve problems, save the world, act, and get to be heroes. Girls don’t see that story.”
Thanks for the shout-out, Margot!