Do Reel Girl’s posts on Goldie Blox ‘denigrate femininity?’

I’ve gotten all kinds of negative comments in response to my post that the viral Goldie Blox ad is selling a message that’s different than its product. Here’s one that a commenter writes is from Goldie Blox. I don’t know if the Goldie Blox comment quoted is in response to my blog or another one.

“And here is GoldieBlox’s response to the backlash: “Yes, we’ve seen this blog post, and the author raises a lot of great points. We’re sorry she feels that Goldie’s a waste of money, but totally understand where she’s coming from.We don’t have a problem with princesses being AN option, as long as they aren’t the ONLY option. Many girls really enjoy princesses, ballet, and pink, and there’s nothing wrong with that! STEM fields denigrate femininity enough as is; girls who enjoy girly stuff are just as capable of building a catapult and launching their younger siblings into the next yard as girls who don’t enjoy girly stuff.As for the toy itself, sure, it’s a “princess toy” in that there is a princess in it. In Goldieblox and the Parade Float, Ruby, Goldie’s best friend, teaches her friends that creativity and friendship matter more than any pageant. We think that’s a pretty good lesson for any kid.”

*STEM FIELDS DENIGRATE FEMININITY ENOUGH AS IS*”

First of all, who says pink and princess is feminine? Do you realize how many assumptions you have to buy into to even make that argument? Pink wasn’t even a “girl” color until the last century. It was a boy color, a version of red. Blue, in honor of the Virgin Mary, was considered a girl color. Children weren’t even color-coded before the early twentieth century. Before that, babies wore white, because to get clothing clean, it had to be boiled. Take a look at President Roosevelt.

Roosevelt-2

The fact that we all think, including our poor kids, that pink is coded in female genes and a “girl” color shows the incredible influence of marketing in 2013.

Anita Sarkeesian highlights our 2013 gender assumptions in her “Ms. Male” video. Here’s how Ms. Pac-Man looks in games our children play. Nice and feminine,” right?

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Sarkeesian writes:

 Because we live in a strongly male-identified society the idea of a Pac-Woman as the “unmarked” default and a Mr. Pac-Woman as the deviation “marked” with masculinizing gender signifiers feels strange and downright absurd. Meanwhile Pac-man and the deviation Ms. Pac-Man seems completely normal in our current cultural context.

 

Here’s how the game might look if male characters were always on the periphery.

pacman

As far as a princess friend being “an option,” I did think when I saw and supported the Kickstarter campaign, and again, maybe I was wrong in my assumption, but I believed that Goldie Blox, itself, was providing the other options. I thought Goldie Blox was the other option! Goldie Blox sells itself as “disrupting the pink aisle,” not to mention the message in the viral ad. The market is completely saturated with princesses who wear puffy dresses and compete in pageants, to the point that toys who were not princesses, like Dora or Strawberry Shortcake, get princessy makeovers.

Here’s another comment on Reel Girl’s Facebook page from the same person as the one above.

It’s a real pity that it has come to this, but I can’t stand for this aggression that you are exhibiting to Goldieblox and anyone who dare to utter “princess”. Princesses are Queens in training – getting ready to one day rule the world.

It is sad that you are using your influence to attack people and products who are technically on your side of the girl empowerment movement. The only way change can be made is through co-operation and support. You are not an example of that. I would wish you “good luck”, but really I don’t. Divisive people are not good people to have in the Feminist movement. I hope one day you will learn the tolerance you so vehemently demand.

The issue is not that I condemn anyone “who dare utter princess.” I recommend princess narratives on Reel Girl including “Brave” and “A Little Princess.” The Middle Grade book I am writing has a princess protagonist in that she is heir to the throne. Here’s a princess narrative, “Child of Light” by Ubisoft, a role playing game due for release in 2014, that gives me chills,.

The Goldie Blox princess, her image and story, leave me cold.

Other commenters write Goldie, herself, is not the princess, she’s just friends with the princess who she is trying to help to win the pageant. Again, that narrative doesn’t excite my imagination or appeal to me. If it appeals to you, go ahead and buy the toy.

14 thoughts on “Do Reel Girl’s posts on Goldie Blox ‘denigrate femininity?’

  1. I have no idea how someone can believe that in 2013 a “pageant competition” is smth empowering for a girl.Seriously couldn’t they think of anything more original? How about a girl being brave and heroic?Is that too much to ask for?

  2. “…Divisive people are not good people to have in the Feminist movement. I hope one day you will learn the tolerance you so vehemently demand.”

    I had to laugh when I read this portion of the comment above. Its like saying: don’t you say what you think, because that’s so selfish. Only do and say what I want. Me, me, me, I’m right! Not selfish you.

    What a load of rubbish. Personally I thought the whole point of feminism was to give everyone a voice, not just the ones who agree with that particular commenter.

  3. I don’t think the company is really getting a larger argument, which is that they are on the one hand saying that princesses aren’t enough, but then selling the messages by using princesses! What is a girl supposed to believe? Why do we have to pit the two against each other?

    I wrote about this in my blog yesterday: I think it feeds into a common trope. Stephanie Coontz coined the term “The Hottie Mystique,” which is the idea that girls and young women are now able and expected to achieve greatness, and do everything men and boys can, but with the added pressure of looking hot and being a sexual object at the same time. So, why in this day and age are we still pushing the princess ideal? Notice the message isn’t, “not a princess” it is “More than Just a Princess” which reads (to me anyway) as, “Yes, I am a princess, but I am also more. – See more at: http://genderandwork.blogspot.com/2013/11/are-good-intentions-enough-gendered-toy.html#sthash.QfVnX17A.dpuf

    Thank you for this awesome post, and the one before it! Nice job keeping the conversation going.

    • Exactly. It’s the “beautiful AND…” trope: she’s “beautiful AND smart”, “beautiful AND strong”, “beautiful AND talented”. Why can’t female characters simply be smart, strong, or talented? Why is beauty always a requirement?

      • This! Thank you!

        After being fat-shamed by my doctor earlier this year (while I was pregnant, for extra fun), I found myself spending quite a bit of time on some fat acceptance websites and blogs. And it suddenly dawned on me that I don’t HAVE to be attractive. I don’t owe beauty to anyone. It was a revolutionary and liberating realization.

        And to give you some background, I’m a card-carrying liberal feminist who was raised by a staunch feminist. I have never really bought into the “importance” of beauty at any point in my life–or so I thought. But having this realization has helped me to understand just how pernicious and all-encompassing the message is, even for those of us who thought they ignored it. (And that’s not even getting into the beauty privilege of white skin and an until-recently smallish frame that allowed me to think I was bypassing the beauty message).

        Beauty is certainly nice. I definitely like looking at pretty people, as does everyone else in the world. But we need to make sure it’s clear to our children that our worth is not tied up in our physical appearance, because that is destined to change.

  4. “Princesses are Queens in training – getting ready to one day rule the world”
    Little bit of history, most princesses (and queens) didn’t rule anything. They married a prince and had children. Sure, they had more power than a peasant or an artisan, but a king ruled the kingdom, and only when there was no male heir, a queen got the throne. Nowadays, most monarchic European countries have changed that laws, but not all. For example, in Spain we have a male heir, although he has 2 older sisters.
    Cinderella didn’t rule anything, the prince did, Snow White didn’t rule anything, the prince did, Sleeping Beauty didn’t rule anything, the prince did. They only married the person who ruled, and got pretty dresses and a nice castle to live.
    But besides that, being a “princess” in itself is not admirable. It doesn’t mean anything. A princess can be stupid, selfish, tyrannical and still be a princess. It’s only a title, you don’t have to work or have any talent to be a princess, nobody gains the right to be a princess. You only have to have the right blood.
    “STEM fields denigrate femininity enough as is”
    Sorry, but no. I feel denigrated when people think that, as a woman, the only way that I can be interested in something if it has something to do with make up, fashion or princess. And this is not even the first time that somebody thought “We want girls in STEM fields. Let’s show them girly things”

  5. Christ. Is there any way to go beyond princess, instead of spinning tight little circles around it? Awesome waste of valuable time. “Queen in training”??? How about some deeper critical thinking around power and how to work together, instead of promoting wierdly gendered models of individualized power? How about just kid superheroes who tear s&*t up and save the day and wear whatever the hell they want? Why do the fantasies we offer girls have to be so boring, so limited, so tame?

  6. “…creativity and friendship matter more than any pageant. We think that’s a pretty good lesson for any kid.”

    True, but these are values that tend to be pushed to GIRLS, rather than boys. Girls are always encouraged to be “helpers” and to be “kind”. Nothing wrong with those values, but it does seem to indicate that Margot, Melissa and Ruth are right: this toy is falling into the same stereotypes about girls and women that we are trying to get beyond.

    And really, the best expression they could come up with for “creativity” is a pageant competition? Looks like a serious LACK of creativity to me.

      • Girls and women have been taught to be “kind” and “sweet” for hundreds of years as a way to control them and not allow them to speak their own mind.This is why these are values that still tend to be pushed to girls (and not boys).It is a patriarchy relic.

  7. That’s definitely what bothers me about it, The assumption that some little girls will not be interested in a toy that does not have a princess or pink in it somehow. There are so many attributes that our society currently considers “feminine”; the pink princess is just the quickest short hand, and also the least imaginative. I’d say the toy is already pretty girly looking – Goldie is definitely not a rough and tumble looking tomboy, she’s got pretty, curly blond hair. I’d say that’s already stereotypically feminine. You really had to throw a princess in there? In a beauty pageant? How is that an interesting storyline compared to everything out there that already exists? It isn’t breaking any new ground. I find that really disappointing.

    Anita Sarkeesian’s latest Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video (http://youtu.be/eYqYLfm1rWA) makes some excellent points about this exactly – how easy and lazy it is to go for the quickest visual stereotype that denotes female. We really don’t need more of the same. And as she also repeatedly points out, we can enjoy something “while being critical of it’s more pernicious aspects”. Being critical of something problematic about this toy is not divisive. It’s giving people something to think about so they can make a decision about whether this toy is right for them. And, one would hope, giving the creator of the toy something to think about as well, as they go on to develop further installments.

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