Girl, LEGO® Friends is not your Friend! Does LEGO® Construct Gender Stereotypes?

Rebecca Gutwald

In January 2014, seven-year-old Charlotte Benjamin wrote a letter to LEGO® in which she described a lack of LEGO options for girls. “I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. If there are girls,” Charlotte wrote, “all the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.” Charlotte was mainly referring to the LEGO Friends theme, which features female core characters and typically “girly” colors such as pink, red, and purple.1

Charlotte’s letter has since gone viral. Many critics of the LEGO Friends theme have cited it in articles and blog posts about how this girls theme reinforces negative gender stereotypes. Yet many other young customers and their parents disagreed. In the comment sections of the websites where the letter was shared, some users remarked that Charlotte was overreacting and failed to notice that she can play with other toys. Other commenters flat out accused Charlotte’s parents of planting their ideas of gender equality in her head.

The argument went back and forth on web forums, in debates over whether LEGO is guilty of sexism or whether feminist advocates are just hysterical. By creating a seemingly innocuous new theme, LEGO suddenly found itself in the middle of a controversy about the equality of the sexes, which feminist philosophers and their critics have been discussing for years.

LEGO® and Philosophy: Constructing Reality Brick By Brick, First Edition. Edited by Roy T. Cook and Sondra Bacharach.

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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