Contra Mozilla

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

GoldieBlox and the Three Mares

When I first saw the GoldieBlox "Princess Machine" ad, my initial reaction was, I'm not going to buy anything from these guys for my daughter. This is because I saw the original version with the parody of Beastie Boys "Girls". This version has disappeared, apparently because the Beastie Boys began inquiring as to why their material was used without their permission. Meanwhile, GoldieBlox reaction has been to sue Beastie Boys over this inquiry.

This is all basically in the background of my mind, actually. It's a bit classless for GoldieBlox to go about it this way, but that's not really where my complaints lay. Rather, I took exception to the parody lyrics (and their implications--I've empasized some):
Girls. You think you know what we want, girls
Pink and pretty it’s girls.
Just like the 50’s it’s girls.
You like to buy us pink toys
And everything else is for boy
And you can always get us dolls
And we’ll grow up like them... false.
It’s time to change.
We deserve to see a range.
‘Cause all our toys look just the same

And we would like to use our brains.
We are all more than princess maids.

Girls to build the spaceship,
Girls to code the new app,
Girls to grow up knowing
That they can engineer that.Girls.
That’s all we really need is Girls.
To bring us up to speed it’s Girls.
Our opportunity is Girls.
Don’t underestimate Girls.

For crying out loud, I know that these lyrics are making fun of a song about girls being treated as nothing more than "maids", though they're really also making fun of housewives, stay-at-home moms, home-makers.
You deserve better
Than thinly veiled whining
About the old patriarchy
And an imagined glass ceiling.

Note the insinuation, "That's all we really need is Girls." Boys are not needed, we can dispense with men. This may not be the intention of the company or the ad, but in a society which is saturated with this message, that is what comes across. The further insinuation that women who choose not to pursue engineering careers--or really any careers--but rather to embrace the vocation of home-maker and mother to the exclusion of other careers don't use their brains is, well, demeaning to say the least.

The commercial itself was really not too bad, though. With the lyrics removed, it's actually pretty well-done, and exactly the kind of thing I'd like to do with my children when they are old enough to appreciate it:

Well, other than perhaps the fact that all three girls look very bored with their pretty-princess show. That kind of thing would probably bore some girls. Others really like it--and it's not a matter of just "gender-socializing" or some other psycho-babble nonsense. Indeed, my (rather progressive) sister once commented to me that her daughters had socialized themselves to like the whole Cinderella/Disney-princess/dolls thing. Actually, the look of the three girls at the beginning is less bored than angry, which I suppose fits the attitude of feminists the world over.

It's just unfortunate that the approach to this is, "We don't need boys!" which reads a lot like "Up with womyn, down with men!" in our cultural milieu. Similarly with the attitude that traditional "girl toys" (and by extension, feminine gender roles) do not require a functioning brain. There are no "mere" housewives, and nobody is "just a mother."

Anyway, my children currently consist of a baby daughter. She's not old enough to play with these kinds of things (they tend to present a choking hazard at her age), but I have big plans for science/engineering exploration with her (her mother, on the other hand, plans to do the same with music). The fact that this company felt the need to turn me off to its products would seem to be rather unfortunate for them, and it unfortunate for us too. I like the idea of my little girls getting into engineering and science (more fun for me, too!), but not at the expense of their femininity. Certainly, not at the price of having some chip on her shoulder against the men in her field, if she does some day decide to go the STE route. To be blunt, that's a true mark of equality between the sexes: when women can enter the field without having a chip of their shoulders against their male colleagues--and when men can look at these women as partners and not merely rivals. Ads like the one first put forth by GoldieBlox do not help to accomplish this.

No comments:

Post a Comment