When Polly’s LEGO Club magazine first came through the letterbox yesterday morning, I was initially pleased.
No mention of Girls! I thought. Perhaps they listened. It includes Friends! Excellent, an inclusive offer to boys AND girls! I was pleased.
Then I looked a little closer.
Ok, it’s not “LEGO Club Girls” any more – but has anything really changed? This is a “Special Edition”. Special edition for what? What did we have to do to get it? In the bottom left hand corner, it announces it’s Issue 2. It’s fairly clear that this is actually a rebranded Girls’ edition, that we have received by virtue of once upon a time ticking a “Girl” box on our original subscription.
Oh well, it could be worse, right – at least there’s a 2-page LEGO City Fire & Police story, and another two pages on the Dino range.
BUT WAIT. My worst fears are confirmed. Forget any other concerns you may have on subtle sexism, gender policing and stereotypes – there are NO BUILDING INSTRUCTIONS. The magazine is USELESS.
The LEGO Club website currently shows three available magazines – LEGO Club, LEGO Club Jr, and LEGO Club Special Edition:
LEGO Club say that their mission is “…to inspire the builders of tomorrow and help them develop their creativity and imagination.” – how? Looking at the cartoons and images in this magazine, all the sets are built exactly per the instructions. Following instructions to build pre-set items isn’t really all that creative or imaginative. I want the old building instructions back showing that you can build anything you want! I want the cartoons and set pieces to USE the existing sets but to show something a little more creative than just putting one set next to another. Show what LEGO is really for – mixing it up and building something fantastic and outrageous and new and unique.
To be fair, there is still the “Cool Creations” section – where children send in photos of themselves showing off their latest creations. It was this feature that previously concerned me most in light of the new gender segregation. I feared that if all images of girls would be put into the “Special Edition” that the “Regular Edition” would be a totally girl-free zone. I can’t confirm or deny this as yet, but can tell you that of the fourteen children depicted here, three are male. Is this to keep some diversity? Or did only eleven girls send in a photo?
What is the message? That girls are special? Well, yes, aren’t we all, but this doesn’t help either the ‘othering’ problem, and certainly doesn’t help boys (they are not special, they are not allowed LEGO Friends)
This seems to me to be a cursory and fairly patronising gesture towards those who contacted them with concerns, and falls short of what I had been hoping for (and indeed expecting). As @thornae quite aptly put it: Management BS at work. “People are angry about the separation of gender content.” “Quick, change the cover!”
Finally, I would like to remind you of the guy that pooh-poohed my previous comments on the subject, saying: “No. Just no. “Regular” in this context means the “usual Lego club book we give out”. Anyone who takes it otherwise, including the writer of this story, is an idiot. Not once does it imply that girls are girls and boys are normal. It doesn’t say “Special Girls Edition for Special Girls” it’s just an edition for girls, period. Nothing special about it.” I hope this proves him wrong.