Sorry Goldieblox

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I just found this article by Katy Waldman in Slate, Goldieblox: Great for Girls? Bad for Girls? Or Just Selling Toys?

If you haven’t yet heard of GoldieBlox toy company, check it out here.   The aim of the company is to guide girls toward a career in engineering, or at the very least get them away from typical girl toys.   While I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on one of the toys, and while the company aims seem at first powerful and legitimate I can’t help but shutter a little at the almost sleazy misappropriation of feminism seen in their video and mission statement, and with it the assumption that girls don’t already utilize home materials, and other toys to satisfy their desire for constructive and creative learning.

I really don’t want to poo-poo on anyones attempt at trying to promote “better” learning for girls (and boys, right?) and while I can even respect understand, the desire to try and make a buck in the name of feminism, this toy company seems to have missed the mark.  In Waldman’s essay she points to many disheartening truths about the toy, and reviewers all seem to agree that while the idea behind the toy is “inspiring” the execution is a, “massive disappointment, Really doesn’t inspire creativity or ‘engineering’ skills, no room for thinking outside the box.” Amazon reviewers. 

In the end, if you want to inspire children to be creative and even to directly push them toward a career in engineering it seems your best options remain in your household.  Tupperware, tape, boxes, blocks, utensils, etc., all of these things promote spacial reasoning, creativity and may even build future engineers.

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3 thoughts on “Sorry Goldieblox

  1. I think the article you linked really misses the mark. Change doesn’t happen instantaneously or in huge leaping bounds. Change, real lasting good change, happens very slowly with little tiny baby steps. Girls do like pink and princesses (why is irrelevant to the point). Making a toy that plays on this preference for princesses while introducing engineering and construction principles is exactly the kind of toy we need. Girls want to do a princess pageant. Making part of this pageant building the stage makes this aspect of engineering more interesting and enjoyable for girls. It gets to the real heart of engineering, a means to an ends, not an ends in and of it’s self.

    Does it really matter if a child is building a stage for a princess pageant or a superhero battle? They are building a stage.

    • Hi, thanks for the comment!

      I completely agree with you, that social change happens slowly. I agree that the author focuses too much on the toys appearance and marketing. Wandlam (author) definitely does something I don’t like, she associates that because the toy is pink, and thus “girlie” it therefore does not create change. In no way do I agree that if something is pink, or blonde, or otherwise “girlie” that it has no feminist upward value. (If you check out an earlier post I wrote, “Feminism vs. Dolls” I make these points.)

      My issue with the toy is that it sounds like it doesn’t work, that it breaks easily, and that there is really not much to learn from it. I’m all about creating social change, but it seems to me that the company is more into the idea of making money on a toy that could be easily constructed from materials in someones house.

      thanks for bringing this issue to my attention, I’ll add a note that I do not agree with the authors negative outlook on the “girlieness” of the toy, my issue is with the appropriation of feminism to make money.

      https://yourbabynannynyc.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/feminism-and-dolls-something-to-consider/

      • Also, I just re-read the article and the author does note that there isn’t anything actually wrong with the pink and girl things by saying,

        “…great reads about smart princesses who don’t stick to the script. Given that the princess script persists, maybe it’s OK that the toys we give girls acknowledge it—and start to show a way out. (We should also keep in mind that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the color pink or tiaras—only with their omnipresence.)”

        Despite the author’s at first and still persistent take that the toy may miss the feminist mission the company was aiming for, I do think author Waldman does a good job looking at the various issues people may take from it. She doesn’t actually seem to think the toy is anti-feminist, she is merely addressing peoples, other feminists’ concerns with the toy. And she ends with…

        “GoldieBlox. What should we make of you? Neither evil nor anti-feminist nor effective at accomplishing your stated aims nor, perhaps, especially fun to play with. So, basically, a company selling stuff. But still, great video.”

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