Thursday 6 September 2012

It's just stuff.

NB The headline is not a new thought. It's not even a new thought for me. But it's one that's been raging in my head since yesterday.

This was prompted by a piece in The Guardian’s 'Comment-is-free' section about the new 'Lego Friends' range. 'Friends' is a new set of Lego for girls, incorporating five girl figures who like girly things like make-up and clothes and ponies and shopping and...

Okay, to be fair to Lego™, the products also include the 'Heartlake Flying Club' (where the girls can fly aeroplanes), and 'Olivia's Inventor's Workshop', 'Olivia's Speedboat', and 'Olivia's Treehouse' – yay! go Olivia! (who is “good at reading maps, navigation by the stars, building things, computers”; who wants “to be a scientist or an engineer”; and whose favourite colour is pink) – so they've clearly thought about it some.

The Guardian piece – itself prompted by an online petition “Tell LEGO to stop selling out girls!” – vacillates liberal-ly between "Oh, this pink stuff for girls is pretty suspect, isn't it" and "but should we really be policing children's imagination?"; while the comments – never read the comments! – see the usual outpouring of "girls and boys are different so there", "feminists are stupid and should shut up - lol", and "but what about the kids, what about the kids?!" My own contribution BTL was (mostly) this:

As for pink lego: it's the marketing of it as “girls’ lego” that's stupid. Lego is just stuff. People are always far too eager to attribute gender to stuff that's just stuff. Stop that already! Let children – girls and boys alike – play with it (or not) if they want to. I know that as a young boy I'd have been very happy to play with pink lego and all the paraphernalia. I liked that sort of stuff then, and I still like it. Because it's not “girls’ stuff” or “boys’ stuff” – it's just stuff.

And that's the thought which has been on my mind since then. Because why is this stuff being gendered at all? Why is anything gendered? “This here is girls’ stuff; that there is boys’ stuff.” What on earth?!? Is everyone bonkers? Are we all five years old? It's just stuff ffs!

Well, that's my thought anyway. Neither original, nor particularly profound, but still... I think I'll make it my maxim from now on. Perhaps I should have it put on a t-shirt, so that if anyone ever gives me nonsense about gender in future, I can simply point to it:

IT'S ... JUST ... STUFF !