This blog is in response to a petition & spam campaign of a few feminists
Some radical feminist groups realized they can advance their own agenda by launching a "No pink aisle, bring back beautiful" social media campaign by claiming The LEGO Group offers no "gender equity" in the new theme "Friends" and its marketing. They created an online petition, then proceeded encouraging their followers to SPAM the LEGO Facebook page with one of TLG's own ads. Laced with false dramatic information, they convinced the petition site to include their "cause" in its membership mailing notice. This blog sheds light on their omissions, skewed facts & images.
Does this look familiar? It's an updated version of an old 1981 ad. This fresh, new version showcases it's not just about colors. It's about imagination. Every girl, no matter what piques her interest, deserves to have sets which inspire her to build! Re-build with those bricks and she gains more STEM skills! In 2011 merely 9% of The LEGO Group's customers were girls -- By 2013 -- after a year of Friends new options, that number rose to 28% and climbing! "Building Girl power"Her doorway to all LEGO ...
Now that the Butterfly Beauty Shop has sold out this holiday season -- it's no doubt a recent effort by Susan Linn's RadFem-related group to decry it as "worst toy of the year" in an award backfired big time!
Oh, and don't forget about checking out all the anecdotal evidence of more girls engaged in building spatial-reasoning skills during play with LEGO Friends:
How convenient that the petition against TLG, which garnered merely 3,000 signatures after several weeks of the RadFem groups spewing their campaign of false information all over the Internet, became included in Change.org's mailing to its members. Well, here's how it works: Shelby Knox, member of SPARKsummit, just happens to also be on the staff of Change. She runs the Women's Rights section there:
So, for her to then push that their petition should be included on the regular update mailing to Change members (said to be 4 million subscribers) is quite interesting and at the very least, quite tainted. Maybe she is also responsible for composing the false information in the letter.
Giving people false information, inciting them on a "click-through-to-add-your-signature" platform and then using that as some evidence is maliciously skewed. When the first wave of doctored, mis-proportioned images and false claims of Friends sets being pre-assembled didn't garner more than the original signatures of the RadFem sheeples, they then moved even further from the facts to get their petition bulked up.
Normally the Change site is for real problems, like banks charging unfair fees (the most well-known petition is against the Bank of America by 22-year-old Molly Katchpole) or other social injustices affecting kids and people who don't have much of a collective voice. It appears that the limelight Molly garnered became attractive to some other 22-year-olds: Stephanie Cole (who didn't play with LEGO as a girl, since she didn't like the whole 'construct' part) and Bailey Shoemaker Richards. These are the names on the petition against TLG. I bet they are more famous now.
How the owner(s) of the Change.org allowed the site to be used by the "no pink" campaigners is a discredit to any worthy movement. Causes about preventing people from starving, being physically harmed, or having their rights diminished are not even remotely similar to a LEGO theme. Especially a box of bricks created to spark the interest of girls who don't already build with them. Girls who are now building spatial, technical, engineering & math skills by creating their own play scenes with LEGO Friends -- rather than opening a toy that is not interactive.
Online petitions are a bit shady anyway. Verifying actual signatures is hard enough for governments in real life voting places. There was never a need for a petition regarding LEGO Friends. If you don't like them, don't buy them. Plenty of girls do like them and are buying them. LEGO bricks are meant to be re-built and re-built; it's the activity of gaining and using skills to re-build the bricks of any color into anything she can imagine that gives her a voice. This campaign has done far more harm to any perceived psychological image girls have of themselves than any innocent LEGO toy set of a young girl enjoying her splash pool & ice cream on a warm Summer's day.
Feminism has run amok in this scenario; when they exclude 'some' girls for their quest to represent all girls, it's self-serving. Girls can speak with their own creativity. Girls are using their imaginations. Real girls do build with LEGO Friends!
PBG & Hardy Girls (Spark partners in the "no pink" campaign against LEGO Friends) is attempting to claim Astrid's presentation of the new Town Hall is a direct response to their wacky, skewed, misinformation-laced "social-media" campaign! Really? Of the video they write:"Coincidence? We think not. Let's give LEGO some props for listening!"
Astrid has been working on this new Modular building way before you RadFems even became aware of the Friends theme. That she mentions people may be surprised she is the presenter is due to the fact that Jamie (who pioneered the Modular line) usually presents new buildings in the videos. Did PBG even watch the video, did they even listen to the video, do they understand the video? Or, did they just see a still-image of the video on LEGO Club TV channel on YouTube and since there is a female in the picture, just assume that she in a response to their spamming, tweeting, posting, block & deleting all over the Internet? Seriously, this takes the cake. There is a systemic failure in comprehension of timelines of LEGO product development and presentation by these groups. Astrid has worked for TLG for 3 years. She's an architect. Of course she likes LEGO Friends. She, like all other LEGO employees & fans, want more girls to build! That's the whole point. Astrid spent time researching Town Hall designs all over the world. She spent time helping to design this new Modular building -- which takes more than a few weeks (as in, since Spark's ultimatum to TLG, pitching a hissy fit, sending more FedEx packages of silly 'skewed' petition print-outs, or else the RadFems will launch yet another 'blurred' letter-writing campaign) and certainly was well underway before the Friends launch this year! More girls are building with LEGO bricks today than December 31st, 2011. Friends contributed to that change. Astrid obviously will continue to inspire builders of all types: girls, boys, men & women! Just don't try to attach your skewed agenda-promoting "no pink" campaign to her in any way! The Town Hall is a Modular building, just like the 700 brick/piece flagship set of LEGO Friends Olivia's House!
The main person behind the petition against The LEGO Group, Lyn Mikel Brown, also is against what she believes are "macho" toys for boys. Along with her partner & fellow Colby College instructor, they appear to have spent the past 20 years railing against toy companies. Lyn Mikel Brown is also owner of these entities: SPARK, Hardy Girls, PBG, which comprise the majority of petitioners and spreading of false information about LEGO Friends.
SPARK has launched another 'campaign' called "Toy Aisle Action Project" telling its followers to put 'notes' onto product boxes in stores' toy aisles to protest that they are girl & boy toys. Yep, it's true. Here is an image of notes stuck to the display case of Olivia's House in the LEGO Friends theme:
The irony is that Olivia's House is far more complex than the Creator House the feminist 'activist' added to that note she affixed to the display case. Olivia's House has 700 separate bricks/elements! It has to be built, the box contains un-assembled pieces. So, yeah, "she" is gonna have to build it. Also, notice the empty shelves below where Olivia's House set boxes used to be -- yet are sold out! Why are they sold out? Because girls LOVE them!
And here are some more: one note attached to a Harry Potter LEGO set which says something about how girls like to play with Harry Potter too. Well, yeah, so what's stopping them?
So, if a retailer puts this in an aisle with other girl-oriented toys, there are wrong (according to SPARK) and if a retailer puts this item in the "construction toy" aisle, then they are wrong (according to SPARK), so what is it? It seems like no matter what companies and retailers do, SPARK feminists are going to complain about it.
They can't even see females when there are females in LEGO sets!!
Can you see the female Police Officer Minfig right there in the center of the whole Police Station?? I hope so! (set is #60047 released in 2014) The irony of Stephanie writing a comment on that post above on their FB page is that even in her article against LEGO Friends she admitted to not playing with LEGO bricks, "because I didn’t like all the assembly required," so, for her to say she would like it even now is hilarious. Also, demonstrated is the ignorance of these groups not realizing it's the "Construction Toy Aisle" not the boys aisle, or LEGO aisle (as there are MB & Knex, and Lincoln Logs, etc., in that aisle too), so their argument is moot.
And some other toys in their target sights.
Product tampering surely is not welcome at retailers. It seems like it would be some sort of misdemeanor crime. One Toys 'R' Us employee posted a message to SPARK that what they are doing, and encouraging others to do, is merely causing more work for employees -- who have to waste time removing the notes. It's not causing some sort of revolutionary change in product development. So, sorry feminists -- you're wasting peoples' time and making yourselves look very petty indeed. Petty product tampering.
Once again, you do not speak for all girls. You do not speak for me. I have spent my life in STEM disciplines. I faced stereotyping. I over-came obstacles in male-dominated academic and professional careers. You do not speak for me. Kids need to be exposed to examples of what their parents may perceive as gender-stereotyped messages in marketing, media and at point-of-purchase, so that they may know to recognize it. They need to be able to delineate for themselves if it is indeed a suggestion, or a trick telling them this is what society demands of them. If you feel this is the issue -- then use this as a teachable moment for your own kids. Give them the skills to navigate through society's messages, so they may use those same problem-solving skills in application to other aspects in life. Whether inter-personal relationships, or in the virtual world, kids need to have the ability to think for themselves.
However, your campaign's tactics on the Internet, consisting of re-spinning half-truths and fact omissions is very unbecoming of any intellectual persuasion.
To the millions of girls who are thrilled about LEGO Friends and the new options which encourage them to manipulate bricks into their play & imagination time, I say: Build on girls!
Besides, why would The LEGO Group give into demands by people who call them names like this:
Melissa Atkins Wardy 'aka' Pigtail Pals and her foul language (see above name she called TLG execs) have perpetuated so many falsehoods about LEGO Friends online, such as them being pre-fab (which they are not), it's hard to keep up with the drivel -- all the while she bought her first ever LEGO bricks in December. The only regret of covering her actions on this blog is that she is online as a business, masquerading as a "girl empowerment" group -- giving her any attention is a bad side-effect. The sacrifice is worth it -- documenting the tactics and actions of these petitioners is here for posterity.
Pigtail Pals pays bloggers to write up stories about perceived inequality in toys, apparel, media, etc., which she hopes to turn into outrage --and hopefully another "viral" effect for her little t-shirt business.
She confesses to never reading the actual public replies to controversial articles, because she considers the articles (and the emotional outrage they inspire) to be her "job security."
Now she teaches her 7-year-old daughter to use profanity too!
Just another reason her initial ignorance about LEGO Friends and spreading false information is more hypocritical than ever. Why should any other parent listen to her? Those words are not appropriate for a young girl. Period.
Please Melissa, just stay away from LEGO Friends, you don't deserve their awesomeness.
Spark changed petition sponsors; somehow they convinced Change to include it in their mailings to its 5 million members. This, after their petition drive stalled-out at around 4,000 signatures over about 2 weeks time period of spreading incorrect information by: tweeting, posting, e-mailing, blogging, begging off op-ed submissions on media sites, plus creating and redistributing false images --- all the while blocking & deleting counter-information posts, links, and product images.
When members arrive at the petition page via a quick link, they are presented with a fantastical story of false information. Any "electronically signed" petition isn't valid if the facts aren't there. Using Spark's own child actresses of Dana Edell (owner of an acting studio) in videos filled with false information.
FACT: 2012 does have more female MiniFigs. How can LEGO add more girls to Harry Potter? Shall they request them from JK Rowling? Yet, you claim "back-story" isn't inspiring creativity anyway? So, which is it, girls? FACT: Images of both girls & boys are all over LEGO advertising -- Buckets, KidsFests, Posters, Magazines, Club magazines, Game covers, etc. FACT: It's a Splash Pool -- just like millions of young girls enjoy in their own backyards. It's Ice Cream (apparently some people aren't familiar with LEGO utensils -- the glass is a goblet, used in many, many sets) not a cocktail "drink" in the one small set in Friends theme. That set is easily over-looked if any of you actually went to a store near you to see for yourself! FACT: Olivia's house is prominent -- oh, and is not "dumbed-down" and the set box includes System bricks compatible to all System sets (yes, including City) -- and it has 695 separate bricks & pieces -- loose and un-assembled. FACT: Stay tuned -- there are more Friends on the way -- you may have to look to the sky!
No, the "no pink" campaigners do not represent all girls making up 50% of the population.You do not represent me.
The LEGO Group is a privately help company; if you don't like one of their themes, don't buy it -- that will leave more for the rest of the world's builders. ------------------------------------------------------------- Update: Read what the Change.dot.org members' mailing message included in regard to the petition against LEGO. http://www.paganomation.com/2012/01/the-ongoing-lego-friends-controversy/
Fact: The LEGO Group gathers research data from all of its educational and corporate sponsorship activities all over the world. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and TLG's partnership organization: FLL (First LEGO League) have been listening to girls (and boys) since 1998.
Some women's rights groups claim girls who build with LEGO NXT Robotics should have been involved with development of any new "for girls" designated theme. They must not realize, NXT building/programming girls were part of the voice!
This is in response to some groups complaining real NXT girls were not part of LEGO research for the new theme:
Helpful LEGO fans try to show one of the "no pink" campaign partners other images of Friends than just the one in all their articles. This was in response to their call for real NXT girls to help develop theme.
In respond to asking why real NXT girls can't develop new theme, helpful comments with images & links to activities which real NXT girls had access to during the research period were then hidden from view by Nancy Gruver of New Moon Girls -- although they had been public for several days.
Yet, they continued their spam campaign on TLG wall.
Pigtail Pals re-adds the same question about why real NXT girls can be included to develop theme in a post to TLG page -- yet this post is in form that doesn't allow comments.
After that, Pigtail Pals "hides" a post (even though it was public for 2 days) in which she claims the Cafe set will take only 4 minutes to build --- requiring merely putting out the cupcake & gumball machine. As well as stating this set is pre-fab, therefore no intellectual challenge for her girl. This Cafe set is mostly red, plus it is not pre-fab; this set comes with all bricks & elements loose in the box -- assembly is required. The box art is only one idea, girls are encouraged to build their own creation -- it's called a MOC (My Own Creation). Building with any color bricks is gender neutral.
Another women's rights petitioner, Lyn Mikel Brown, used one of her many platforms to continue the campaign of: "No pink aisles, bring beautiful back," against the LEGO Group's new Friends theme. Although I tried four times to post a counter-information comment -- alas, they wouldn't post it. Does the uploader of the blog page on Huffington have control over which comments get posted? Mine would have been the very first post, but after 4 tries, nothing. Then I noticed a comment did go through -- so it is possible for just the right comment to get through. By highlighting the hashtag #LiberateLEGO, they are trying to re-ignite the campaign promoting a petition, spam, tweet, post on a site (then rinse & repeat as needed). All the while, they systematically delete posts on their own groups' pages on Facebook which LEGO fans have provided by sharing non-photoshopped/product stock images of the new Friends sets. Not publishing counter-argument comments is another tactic. (Yes, people have sent us compositions of what they wrote as comments which were never published on their various articles.) Some of the deleted comments also included links to information about some programs/activities in which LEGO and the LEGO fan community has included girls; several have provided research insight over the past years. Link to the above article of Lyn's is here:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html
(note: Lyn is co-founder of SPARK, Hardy Girls, PBG and teaches at Colby College)
Riley - the girl in the video about pink & blue - whose video was promoted and then offered up to the "No Pink aisles" campaigners for use in their "social-media campaign" against The LEGO Group when her parents heard about the new Friends theme. ===========================================================================
Here's the proof. Thanks to The Huffington Post. (above screencap is link to article) Transcribe of what it says in the screencap: "Sarah Maida, Riley's mom, told The Huffington Post that this video was
actually shot in May of 2011. She and her husband Dennis had shared it
with a few friends, who responded positively to Riley's message. But,
after Sarah heard about LEGO Friends -- shapely mini-figures that lock
into pink, purple and pastel green settings, such as a dream house, a
splash pool and a beauty shop -- she posted the video on Facebook fan
pages for Princess Free Zone and Pigtail Pals,
companies that sell only gender-neutral products and stand up for
girl's rights. (Princess Free's tagline is "Come as you are," and they sell apparel featuring designs like a dinosaur on a scooter or a skateboarding octopus.)"
Then came the start of the SPAM campaign on the LEGO facebook page. Some feminist women's rights groups and "girl empowerment" product sellers networked together to SPAM and spread false information about the Friends theme and TLG's research.
Even in promoting the video, they admit some people think the rant is staged. As written by Jennifer Shewmaker, who also believes girls with ADHD aren't "normal" and used that premise in her education.
This is a screencap of PBG telling their networking groups to tell LEGO not to base a new theme on what four years of research with real girls garnered -- but to give girls what is "good for them" (in their opinion) instead.
Hello? The LEGO Group isn't in the business of, say, offering school lunches, which you pay for with your tax dollars and probably would want to make sure the meals aren't just what some kids want -- yet what is good for them instead.
The LEGO Group is a privately-help corporation, which has gone beyond what most toy companies do in regard to research & development of its products. So, there we have PBG (powered by girls), SPARKsummit, Pigtail Pals, New Moon Girls, and Hardy Girls, Princess Free Zone, Jennifer Shewmaker, and a few more, all hatching their "social media campaign" plan. "No pink aisles, bring back beautiful"is what they spammed.
What should have been a joyful holiday season was muddled up by a few feminists with an agenda. They saw an opportunity upon a chance dialogue with a wonderful company called LEGO -- they ran with it -- they petitioned -- they spammed -- they posted & re-posted, and now we know they used an apparently staged video of a little girl's rant.
They tweeted and sent the video link back & forth in their networks -- somehow it got the attention of ABC News. Oh, Diane, how you were duped.
Update:Riley's mom, Sarah, is so confused about LEGO Friends that she provides false statements saying they aren't compatible with 'other LEGO' when everyone who owns LEGO knows they are 100% compatible with any other LEGO bricks, and the mini-dolls have exchangeable hair with mini-figs, and can hold any utensil a mini-fig can. She also fails to comprehend that girls made up only 9% of TLG's customers in 2011 -- and now that Friends is available that number has increased to 28% -- that isn't about making people buy more, it's about many parents buying LEGO bricks for the very first time!!!
Notice Riley's pic as her profile pic -- yeah Batman & LEGO Friends are not mutually exclusive either -- loads of girls play with both. Hey, is that a pink cabinet in your house? Wow.
If The LEGO Group only cared for profits as Riley's mom suggests, then why do they sponsor Google's Science Fair? Sarah hasn't a clue -- too busy using her kid to promote her own anger.
PBG (Powered by girls) usually attacks companies like Abercrombie, etc., for showing too much cleavage, or something like that.
How they ever justified lumping LEGO Friends into that category is bizarre at best.
The LEGO Group's 1981 advertisement SPARKsummit uses in their campaign is merely one ad featuring girls TLG has put forth over the decades. In that advertisement
the word "beautiful" is actually there as a description of what the girl
built -- that it wasn't necessarily a "set" nor did it have uniform
colors like sets, yet her own creation is still beautiful.
That there are no pink bricks visible isn't because LEGO didn't already make pink bricks.
Update: Bailey Poland has written a book about "Haters" online ... even though she, herself, is a "hater" of other peoples' creativity, choices and lifestyles. Hypocrisy for sure.
The most noted self counter-productive statement she makes is admitting she didn't even play with LEGO bricks as a child: "... because I didn’t like all the assembly required ..."
Well, too bad Stephanie -- millions of girls do like the assembly required and are building with LEGO Friends. They are gaining STEM skills every day.
In reply to this notion that all TLG has to do to get more girl customers is to make more female minifigures: Not all LEGO figures can be Princess Leia or Hermoine, as referenced in her article. It appears they are not aware of the girls in the Collectible MiniFigures series, or the Community workers set, or all the new 2012 City sets!
Notice how they seem to
be focused on the Splash Pool set, without showing images of the Inventor's
Workshop, or others, which were released publicly at the same time.
Customers had complained there weren't LEGO sets attracting enough young girls to build -- so The LEGO Group invested tons of money & time in an anthropological research project spanning the globe comprised of thousands of *real* girls and their families to develop a Gateway theme into construction toy play. In 2011 only 9% of LEGO builders were girls; now that Friends sets are available, that number has increased to 27% (per The LEGO Group). These sets have the same creative, building toy as all LEGO. Olivia's House set box contains 700 loose bricks and instructions. Girls can then re-build the bricks blending in bricks from any other LEGO set or brick bucket.
Now more girls are gaining STEM skills through spatial-reasoning involved in building and re-building these toys. They also gain technology skills by accessing interfaced programs, such as LEGO Digital Designer to create CAD-type version of these sets -- as well as manipulate the bricks in that virtual platform to create anything she can imagine!