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Posts Tagged ‘GoldieBlox’

If you have sociologists as Facebook friends you have probably seen this commercial for GoldieBlox, set to a revised version of “Girls” by the Beastie Boys:

Since it debuted on November 17 it has received over 8 million YouTube views and gotten enough attention to be both lauded and lambasted. As summarized by Katy Waldman at Slate:

As GoldieBlox stands to attract even more publicity (it is one of four finalists in a contest for small businesses to air an ad during the Super Bowl), we should ask whether its products live up to the company’s message. Does GoldieBlox actually “disrupt the pink aisle,” inspiring girls to trade in their tiaras for goggles—or is it a cynical attempt to straddle the market by hooking parents on a message of empowerment while enticing kids with the same old glittery crap?

GoldieBlox highlights some of the same difficulties that Lisa Wade discussed in relation to Miley Cyrus. If young girls want pink things, and the products on display in toy aisles suggest that they do, it makes sense that a company would try to profit by giving them what they want. If parents, on the other hand, don’t want to reinforce negative stereotypes, it also makes sense that a company would try to profit by giving them what they want. Wade writes:

That’s how power works. It makes it so that essentially all choices can be absorbed into and mobilized on behalf of the system.  Fighting the system on behalf of the disadvantaged – in this case, women – requires individual sacrifices that are extraordinarily costly.  In Cyrus’ case, perhaps being replaced by another artist who is willing to capitulate to patriarchy with more gusto.  Accepting the rules of the system translates into individual gain, but doesn’t exactly make the world a better place.  In Cyrus’ case, her success is also an affirmation that a woman’s worth is strongly correlated with her willingness to commodify her sexuality.

Despite their interesting commercial, GoldieBlox are a product (is a product? Goldie Blox appears to be the name of a girl in the line of products). No matter how much we want it to be a subversive company that sticks it to The Man for young girls everywhere, its existence and success depends on the same system as every other toy. So we end up with pink building toys with narratives designed to appeal to girls who have already accepted stereotypical notions of femininity whose parents want them to realize that being female does not limit their potential. All in the name of profit.

Update: See also Elline Lipkin’s take at Girl With Pen.

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