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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.

text that says Ana's Section

➝ I really enjoyed this panel on Young Adult Speculative Fiction at SF Signal — so many smart people saying interesting things all in one place! It touches on many things, including the clear disconnect between the YA and speculative fiction communities. I would love to one day see an in-depth discussion of the possible gendered elements behind this.

Being conscious about gender — Malinda Lo on writing passive female characters. There was a lot about this post that I found very useful, but at the same time, I really don't want writing passive female characters to become kryptonite. There's a difference between fictional ladies being passive by default and being passive in a story that is in part about their passivity and the culture that shapes and encourages it — novels like Consequences by E.M. Delafield or Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson come to mind. I think these are excellent feminist novels, even though their protagonists are the opposite of what we understand by feminist heroines. It's all in the handling.

If the Clothes Fit: A Feminist Take on Fashion — I would love to read a whole book about gender and fashion. Recommendations, anyone?

How I Live Now: The Sequel — the always awesome Meg Rosoff on how books belong to their readers.

➝ Look, look! Tor.com has clips from The Legend of Korra. Cue in much excited squealing. (PS: Don't Read the Comments™.)

This is an old post about the potential problematic elements of costume dramas, which I'm sharing mostly so you can join me in headdesking over Hugh Bonneville's comments about Downton Abbey. The post then gets much, much worse, but I would expect no less from Daily Fail commenters. Conversations about these things often turn into exercises in guilt-tripping people for what they enjoy, which is something I don't believe in at all — thoughtfulness and critical thinking can easily co-exist with enjoyment, after all. But the comments on this post are interesting and refrain from doing that.

Are Women People? — a fascinating piece about a book of suffragette poems the author randomly discovered on Project Gutenberg, and which I now of course want to read. I should add that "the sheer bounty, the gems you’ve never heard of on Project Gutenberg, which are yours, for free, and which will break you with gratitude" are definitely also my favourite thing about having an e-reader so far.

A woman's place — a Sydney Morning Herald piece on literary sexism and the ways we're all socialised to privilege men's writing. Many thanks to [twitter.com profile] irisonbooks and [twitter.com profile] beautyandthecat for the link.

A letter from a 14-year-old to Lego:
Quite honestly, I don’t have that much of a problem with you painting your new Legos pink. Lots of girls like pink, and while that fact is an incitement of our popular culture in itself, it’s not your fault. In addition, adding pink might encourage some girls to try Legos. My problem is with the theme of the collection, and the ideas it enshrines. You are telling girls that they can do, or should do, nothing more than sit and prink. You are telling girls that the boys get to have all the fun, while they have to stay home and be bored. You are saying that all girls care about is makeup and how they look, when in reality there is so much more.

Yes, more. I always worry this kind of thing will turn into "even girls have girl cooties because girl things just suck", but she's too smart to do that.

Undoing Gender Math Stereotypes — yay, science.

text that says Jodie's Section

➝ Lots and lots of previously unseen pictures from Scott's expedition to the South Pole. I am a little obsessed with stories of exploration.

➝ The BBC ran a series of three programs called 'Stargazing Live' this week, about the wonders of the universe and oh my, they were fascinating and reasonably accessible to someone like me with no real scientific background. The whole team of presenters and invited scientists were enthusiastic, passionate and serious, but I just wanted to highlight one of the contributors, Lucie Green and give you a chance to check out some of the science work she's done with the media.

➝ Possibly one of the oddest, most indefensible cases of book banning I've heard about so far has taken place in Tucson, Arizona. It seems an ethnic studies program that demonstrates measurable results is being shut down, because it tells the truth about history and there's a white guy in power who doesn't like the way this version of history makes other dead white people sound. Karen Healey sets out the details in Save Ethnic Studies in Tucson.

➝ I wanted to show off the cool handmade octopus ring I got for my birthday. I asked for a squid ring because of my interest in marine life and because I had just become besotted by 'Kraken', but this whole online store is full of gorgeous monochrome, acrylic jewellery.

Illustrated maps are pretty.

➝ Sarwat Chadda's Billi SanGreal books are on their way to becoming a TV series. I love these books (and am sad that it seems the third one has been put on the back burner for now), so I'm really excited that we could get a kickass TV program as well.

➝ If anyone is making 'what to do in England lists' let me make a passionate plea for you to add The National Portrait Gallery to your top five. The Gallery contains so many surprising pictures of your favourite historical figures (yes I have favourites and they include Oliver Cromwell) and houses the only portrait of Shakespeare thought to have been painted from life (Shakespeare was a distinctly attractive rake, with an earring). And for those who like modern portraits, the National Portrait Award exhibition is worth seeing as well (I saw that on tour though, not in London).

Anyway, I got distracted singing the praises of the Portrait Gallery. What I actually meant to link you to was Vulpes Libres recent post about a new exhibition there, showing portraits of people who can't be identified, which is a project designed to make me release all my social history nerd feelings on the Internet. Ordinary people in history! The impossibility of holding onto all our past! Everybody had a story! Selection by importance! Fallibility!

Anyway a group of well known writers were commissioned to write stories to go alongside
some of the paintings and while initially I thought 'woah, bad idea', Vulpes Libres says that the resulting book is good. They actually managed to convince me I would like it by disagreeing with one writer's assessment of character. What can I say, I am contradictory and like to see people argue with the chroniclers.

text that says Renay's Section

➝ I really enjoyed this post from The Pervocracy about consent culture, specifically this:
I think part of the reason we have trouble drawing the line "it's not okay to force someone into sexual activity" is that in many ways, forcing people to do things is part of our culture in general. Cut that shit out of your life. If someone doesn't want to go to a party, try a new food, get up and dance, make small talk at the lunchtable—that's their right. Stop the "aww c'mon" and "just this once" and the games where you playfully force someone to play along. Accept that no means no—all the time.

➝ Foz Meadows puts into words how I grew frustrated with the YA community back in 2009 but could never really express:

Like Tyrion Lannister, we have taken the things for which others sought to mock us — magic, dragons, elves, dwarves, wizards, kings, quests — and made them our strongest armour. We have proved we are not ashamed, because there is nothing in what we love to shame us. And yet, this success has come at a cost. By choosing to present a united front, we have forcibly ignored internal dissent. By armouring ourselves in tropes, we have bred homogeneity in their expression. By refusing to be criticised for what we are, we have started ignoring criticism of what we’ve done. And now that we are a force to be reckoned with, we are using that force to suppress our own diversity. It’s understandable — but it’s not acceptable.

It's a great post. I'm not surprised it's easily applied to SF/F and YA both. So often I see blogs going, "posting negative reviews makes me uncomfortable." and it's easy enough to see why, if the reaction is a questioning of your mental health and authors/agents mocking you on Twitter. The whole post is fabulous and makes other excellent points. Definitely worth checking out.

SFWA Names Connie Willis Recipient of the 2011 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award! I guess this means I should be reading her work before people that shall remain nameless come after me with a pitchfork and rope and that eye contraption from A Clockwork Orange.

➝ There's a wonderful review of A Wind in the Door up at Tor.com. When asked by some unsuspecting person to pick the favorite books from my childhood, depending on my mood I may unload a list of terrible but amazing Sweet Valley University titles, or some terrible historical fantasy YA with shapeshifters, or god, horrible tweeny romance novels mass produced in some kind of hivemind where all the characters were the same but with different names and plots. In fact, I believe that hivemind was latter tapped to help produce every teen movie of the late 90s and it was really, really good for me. But the book I never fail to put on the list is A Wind in the Door. I checked out A Wrinkle in Time so many times, but A Wind in the Door was my favorite. Meg and Calvin, Progo, kything. This book is hugely important to me. I have a domain called echthroi.org and my partner of almost ten years has a domain named echthroi.com and it's because of these domains that we met (Googling yourself sometimes pays off). This book changed my life when I read it as a kid, and changed my life again when I reread it and chose a domain to remind myself to always, always Name people. L'Engle was one of my introductions to fantastic literature, to fantasy and science fiction and the impossible made probable within the confines of a page. There's a celebration going around for the 50th Anniversary edition of A Wrinkle in Time. The book definitely deserves it, but for myself, A Wind in the Door will always remain my favorite of the series.

➝ Cracked.com posted The Five Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor. There's so much truth in this for me and I'm still suffering from some of the things it talks about, specifically about spending money:
When a windfall check is dropped in your lap, you don't know how to handle it. Instead of thinking, "This will cover our rent and bills for half a year," you immediately jump to all the things you've been meaning to get, but couldn't afford on your regular income. If you don't buy it right now, you know that the money will slowly bleed away to everyday life over the course of the next few months, leaving you with nothing to show for it. Don't misunderstand me here, it's never a "greed" thing. It's a panic thing. "We have to spend this before it disappears."

Oh god. My life. It's all so painfully true.

➝ I took a look at my last.fm lists for the past year and it was pretty dire: lady, dude, dude, dudes, dudes with one lady, dude, dude, and so on. I decided to make it a goal to search out more female artists. Ana recommended me Bat for Lashes, who is really lovely. Siren Song is very low key and sort of makes me want to burn some incense. Then break out in hives from the smoke. But I would still feel super cool for about three minutes.

Date: 2012-01-21 11:29 am (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Note to self: Read A Wind in the Door. I own a pretty boxed set with the whole series and was supposed to have read it with Kelly some 3 years ago now, but completely dropped the ball on that. But I'm rereading A Wrinkle in Time this month as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, which is the perfect excuse to then carry on.

The Scott Expedition pictures are so awesome!

Date: 2012-01-21 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com
Ladies, I love this feature so very, very much. Renay, the link to the consent culture post is brilliant. A little while ago, I was at home with my parents. My father was asking us to sit down and watch Largo Winch, since my brother talked him into renting it; my mother and I didn't want to. My father left the room, and my mother turned to me, shrugged, and said, "Well, it's not unpleasant and he won't shut up about it, so let's just watch it." And I was absolutely stricken by her remark and told her later that we don't do things only because they're not unpleasant. We do things because we want to or need to.

Ahem. That was a little bit of an overshare, but these posts are FANTASTIC.

Date: 2012-01-21 05:30 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Aw, thank you <3

Date: 2012-01-22 01:04 am (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I know! I really loved that link because it was so enlightening for me to think about consent in different ways than just sexual, but it's so true. The anecdote you shared is so similar to some family situations I've been in it's eerie, but I guarantee that we all have them.

Oversharing redux: my mother was the one who pressured me the most into things I didn't want to do, and she used the same language your mother did. I used to blame this on her being an older mother (she had me at 40) but now I'm coming to realize that it's everywhere no matter the generation.

Date: 2012-01-21 04:46 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I was reading the 'feminist on fashion' piece, thinking that the ideas and voice sounded very familiar, checked the byline and it's one of the ladies from Threadbared. I have yet o find time to read it but she also presented a 'Directors Cut' post to go alongside the article: http://iheartthreadbared.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/fraught-intimacies/

Date: 2012-01-21 05:30 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Definitely bookmarking that for later!

Date: 2012-01-21 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] phoebenorth
➝ A letter from a 14-year-old to Lego:

Quite honestly, I don’t have that much of a problem with you painting your new Legos pink. Lots of girls like pink, and while that fact is an incitement of our popular culture in itself, it’s not your fault. In addition, adding pink might encourage some girls to try Legos. My problem is with the theme of the collection, and the ideas it enshrines. You are telling girls that they can do, or should do, nothing more than sit and prink. You are telling girls that the boys get to have all the fun, while they have to stay home and be bored. You are saying that all girls care about is makeup and how they look, when in reality there is so much more.

Yes, more. I always worry this kind of thing will turn into "even girls have girl cooties because girl things just suck", but she's too smart to do that.

I have to admit that the last two sidetracks where Ana comments about Lego is one of the rare instances where I fervently disagree with the ladybusiness ladies--and the general gestalt of the feminist interwebs about such things. As a long time lego fan, and one who owned a girly Paradisa set in the 90s, this is Lego's first real step in the right direction of creating toys for young girls. And not just girly girls, not just girls interested in make-up and appearances. In fact, the debut line includes a robot workshop, a tree house, an ATV, and several sets that include women as business owners. They're not even pink (they're mostly purple and pastel blue). Having looked into the line extensively at its announcement, I can't help but feel like the response has been knee-jerk. Many Lego fans are terribly offended by the new minifigs, and while I understand some of their complaints (the non-jointed legs and hands), the actual figures themselves are not sexualized, but rather very much made to look like your average tween girl. They're not all wearing pink, or dresses (most wear pants!). In fact, the older Paradisa series heavily featured very made-up women, all dressed in pink bikinis and posed passively on the boxes. Many fans of traditional Lego have gotten very up in arms about the emphasis on relationship-play with the new line, of the fact that these are as much "dolls" as "building toys," but there seems to be a hearty disdain for traditional girls' play buried under the surface there, and that saddens me.

It's a bit frustrating, you know? For example, the letter from the 14-year-old says this: "I promise you, girls are do more. Girls ARE more. As a kid, my favorite things to do were read and write (incidentally, I’m not seeing any library Lego sets coming out lately), but what I loved almost as much were building forts and climbing trees. There is nothing as nice as sitting in the crook of a big green tree with your book and listening as the leaves flutter in the passing breeze on a quieter day, or scaling the heights and climbing out far past what your parents would be okay with on an an adventurous one. And, of course, there is always the fun of piling up the pillows for a fort, figuring out a way to hold the sheets up (I devised a complicated system involving three of my dad’s spring clips, our yard stick, and the space between the headboard and the wall, which worked fantastically), and then settling down with a book, bowl of popcorn, or even a set of Legos to relax after my labors." But it's clear if you look at the actual toys that Lego has very much taken these interests into account. Beause they've actually made a treehouse for young lego fans to play with.

Is the line perfect? No, it's not. There should be more boy friend figurines, and we'd all like to see an even greater emphasis on science than what's already there. And I'd be the first to say that we need more female figs in the main lines, too. But I wish there was more acknowledgement of the many things that lego did right here. Like include tiny robots. Tiny robots!

Date: 2012-01-21 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] phoebenorth
(Oh, and I see that the 14-year-old does acknowledge the tree house--but says it's "premade." According to amazon reviews, it has 40+ steps for construction. I realize this might seem trifling, but it's just so frustrating to see toys that I would have loved as a young, pretty butch girl who still liked dolls be so summarily dismissed. Blargh.)
(deleted comment)

Date: 2012-01-21 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] phoebenorth
I think it's really, really natural, especially with adult women who grew up loving what's traditionally considered "boy-oriented play" and for those of us discouraged by the pinkification and princess narrative of contemporary girly toys (the problem there being not the pink necessarily, but the passivity and lack of imagination encouraged therein). But I do think we have to be careful not to, say, assume that doll play does not equal imaginative play, or disparage the girls and boys who enjoy it. And we should also support companies that are taking steps in the right direction in representation as well as representation of interests.

The sad truth is that Lego has, across the board and for over a decade now, very much failed to include girls in their planning or marketing, and now they're trying to do so without completely defaulting to sexist stereotypes. The friends line is only a start, but it's an admirable one, particularly compared to their past efforts. I'd like to see more of that, generally, and definitely don't want the baby (or the tiny robot, as the case may be) to be thrown out with the bathwater.

Date: 2012-01-21 05:52 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Oops, I'm so sorry! It seems that I was deleting and reposting my comment due to typos at the same time as you were posting your reply. (For anyone else reading this, see below).

But yes, I definitely don't want tiny robots (d'aww) to be thrown away with the bathwater. The three of us here at LB often remind ourselves and each other of our unofficial motto, "there's no wrong way of being a girl", and this is a great example of why these reminders are still very much necessary. Lego was a huge part of my childhood, and since I spent a lot of my time playing with an older brother, I did grow up loving "boy-oriented play" - and being made to feel inadequate for it in certain contexts. But none of this means that "girl-oriented play" is in any way lacking or unimaginative by definition, or that also representing these interests is a bad thing.

Thank you for the thoughts - this is exactly the kind of conversation we all hoped LB would be all about.

Date: 2012-01-21 06:41 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
This is such a flying comment, as I'm kind of late and so if it's ok I'll be back later with more stuff, but for now I want to raise a quick point. Phoebe I remember your original post about the Lego sets and I saw the science lab kit image you posted. I've also seen the image included on other posts about this new Lego. So, I've been watching this debate unfold, trying to work it all out.

When I watched the Lego friends advert on their website (and I guess in tv spots that I don't see because I'm not watching kids tv) the lab set wasn't included, nor is the tree house. Although the set includes as you say a bunch of women being business owners, the ad seems very focused on a top level message of parties, makeup and styling, rather than 'look girls you can be pretty and a successful business woman'. That message is maybe implicit, although I'd say it's very buried (does the girl who is at the stables own them, does she ride, or does hse just enjoy looking styling alongside a horse - who knows from that ad?).

So I wonder if we should be focusing on how this set is being advertised, because that seems problematic.

All that female colour coding sure make me uncomfortable though, because of pink's societal prevalence and especially as I remember reading about the research results Lego turned up. As far as I know there were no results included that tied colour to increasing female participation.

Date: 2012-01-21 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] phoebenorth
I agree, having watched one of the TV ads today, that the advertising is problematic--undeniably so, and it would be worth discussing (though the website does feature the tree house right on the main page).

However, most of the debate has been in response not to the advertising, but to the initial press announcement, which emphasized that Lego was doing this specifically to expand what many consumers had felt was a "pink ghetto" in their line. And what this debate is unfortunately doing is also recasting the history of Lego to be gender-neutral and progressive when it very much wasn't. This line supplants Belville, a previous "girl" lego line that featured larger dolls that were incompatible from their main sets and included almost no building. In fact, announcements of this line has caused a lot of grumbling from Lego fanatics about how the Paradisa line should have been reinvigorated instead (mostly because they dislike the new minifigs, even though they were based on market research about how girls wanted figurines which were more detailed and looked like them), even though Paradisa used the same bright color scheme and was completely focused on female passivity (sitting by the pool, mostly). The truth is that throughout the company's history, they haven't seen the blocks as gender neutral. This is shown through their advertising and the dearth of female minifigs. Compared to older lego lines like Scala (lego jewelry--for girls!), this is incredibly progressive--and the variety of tasks they show these girls engaged in makes it even more so.

I'm not sure how buried any of this is outside of the television commercials. I've seen comments online insistent, for example, that the vet set does not include a female vet, even though a quick glance at the set shows that's not the case. I honestly think the real problem here has been knee-jerk journalism in places like Jezebel (one of the initial breakers of this story), who were quick to say that the set doesn't encourage creativity. This again has in it the implicit assumption that relational play with dolls isn't creative and is somehow lesser than building play, and doesn't acknowledge the fact that these kits include roughly the equivalent amount of building as most licensed standard lego sets.

I'm honestly not so sure about how I feel about color coding of girls' toys. It's one thing to say that the flood of pink is problematic and limiting; it's another to say that making toys a variety of bright and pastel colors, which is what lego has actual done here, is. I don't think it's great to privilege strong primary colors that are coded in our society as those that go on "boys'" toys over pastels. And pink lego bricks have existed for years now. Lego could have easily marketed a product that was unilaterally pink, like many other toys in the girls' aisle. Instead, they've chosen to make these sets equally violet and blue. I can't imagine that this was an unconscious choice.

Date: 2012-01-22 03:50 am (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I agree with your point about some of the journalism. At least that's why I haven't said anything about all the Lego links a flying, because I was trying to work out quite how close this commentary comes to 'being into boys stuff is the only way to be a feminist/ positively grow up as a girl' stuff. It's tricky to work out, but I can see why older women would be so invested in the original Lego line - not just because of the reasons you've explored (I guess I should state here that I had both toys traditionally for boys like my own airport set and trains, as well as toys that were traditionally for girls like Polly Pocket and Barbies - declares toy interests like a grown up ;) ) but because creating a Lego 'for girls', well, it does mean Lego are inevitably caught up in the 'why do we need a seperate line, why can't it be both progressive and integrated' argument.

I think that's a good argument to check out. The market research suggests that girls don't like the original boxy characters, which seems to make a case for a seperate line, unless the boys can be shown to be just as happy with Friends like figures as they are with original Lego models. Is research into that pending? Is it likely to ever happen, considering that boys will play with the original figures and change costs money? And I'd like to see if someone if able to interrogate the Lego market research and ask why girls prefer figures that look more human like (it's unlikely that it's just a natural preference spread over a wide range of girls, so it's socialisation, but is it positive, or negative socialisation). These are all questions I have, that I'd like to see satisfied and that will always be hanging until Lego does some more research. At the same time I agree that some of the coverage of this issues seems a bit unbalanced.

I think my problem with the colour coding (the pink, purple and the pastel) is less about Lego specifically, and more that I'd rather nothing was gender colour coded. It's not that I want primary colours to be everywhere because they're idk cooler, it's more that I wish colours weren't associated with genders when it comes to marketing. I'm not really sure how we get out of this trap now that they are. I don't like that Lego went the pink, purple, or pastel route with the Friends brand because I'm not convinced that girls respond better to those colours than they would to say a whole lot of bright yellow and blue. But I'm also not exactly thrilled that the main Lego brand (which has according to their research at least never succeeded at attracting large amounts of girls and as you say has never really made any attempt to be gender neutral) doesn't seem to include purple and pastel so obviously, because is there really a whole lot of research to suggest that boys don't respond to purple and pastel (Ana will know better than me and will know if it's research that could be challenged by making societal changes)? As you say Lego could have made everything pink and they've avoided that...great - but they still seem to be gender colour coding. And that troubles me, along with the fact that they're probably not going to make colour changes to their existing main lines. If they were evening the colours out across the lines, so that we didn't even really notice that one kind of colour (primary or pastel) dominated one kind of line I'd feel more positive about their approach to colours.

I'm being a bit harder on Lego than I might be on a company just starting out with a line like Friends, or an individual who was trying to be progressive but maybe falling short of idealistic standards because, well, I kind of think a company that creates a project which has had such a dearth of active female figures and focus up until now has to expect their efforts at encouraging a growth in female consumers to be examined intensely. Do I think that means the Friends line needs to cease to exist as some do? Well, no. Like you, I think this is a start. I also think that Lego should have started a long time ago and now they're playing catch up, which means criticism, when appropriate, is more likely to be the order of the day than praise, until they get a bit further and because they're a big corporation they are equipped to take that. That doesn't mean that I personally think all criticism of the product is absolutely right, or that I'm not worried about the particular way some of the criticism has been formed. But I do think Lego are going to have to do a lot more before I'm going to see them as progressive, in any other way than in relation to other toy companies (who, wow, I will tell you the horror story about a company I've personally heard talking about toys if you like). They don't have to be perfect, or fit my own personal definition of feminist allies, but they do have to do more, because they've done so much that isn't good before. I know that probably sounds harsh, but it's kinda the way I feel.

Totally want to acknowledge that your post about this issue made me think deep about this piece of news and gave me extra things to factor in. I'm so happy that we're all able to have this discussion. Like Ana says, this is part of what I hoped LB would be about, a place where we can all air our own views and be heard, but still disagree if we feel the need and not have to hate each other.

Date: 2012-01-22 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] phoebenorth
This is SUCH an awesome, nuanced discussion.

I should say perhaps that my own toys were very gender-mixed (and as an adult, I have more than what is probably considered a healthy interest in toys generally--I get the Playmobil, Lego, AND American Girl catalogs because I love looking at tiny accessories). I had Lego Castle and Paradisa toys--but I felt the dearth of female minifigs just like modern girls, and had to put together a freckle faced figure that I felt approximated my own, short haired appearance to go play with the knights and the wizards in my castle.

I also can't help but think of little boys like this one and how the set might appeal to them. I think it's a positive that, while sorted on their website under "girls," this isn't literally branded as Lego for Girls. "Lego Friends" has in it at least the potential to be a line with cross-gender appeal.

As it is, I'm holding my breath a little--Lego promises to release 29 figures as part of the first Friends line-up, and I'd like to see more boys, and a little more diversity (maybe some sort of imaginative set--some sort of superheroes? It would be off theme but the potential is there.) And yeah, I'd like to see a wider variety of colors and figs in the main line, too. I think the fact that this seems to have been largely a step in the right direction for the core audience according to, say, amazon reviews, despite the protests, is promising. From the company's statements, they seem to very much establish this as a growing brand in the same way that their core line is--and it's with that growth that we'll get greater possibility for positive portrayals.

Date: 2012-01-21 05:37 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
I'm really glad you said something, because you made me realise that my reaction was indeed pretty knee-jerk. I should have read more about the line before dismissing it as one more step towards forcing girls into a narrow box of only being interested in traditionally feminine things. And of course the key word here is "only". I share your frustration with how people are too quick to equate pink and girly with bad and sexist, since that's an oversimplification that only creates yet more problems. And yet here I was doing it myself.

Date: 2012-01-21 11:25 pm (UTC)
chrisa511: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrisa511
Oh I love you ladies :) Renay, my last.fm is the exact opposite :p Almost all women! There are so many amazing female artists out there: First Aid Kit is really good…listening to their new album right now…kind of folksy. Also like St. Vincent, Tori Amos, Fever Ray (though there's a dude there too), Feist, Best Coast, regina spektor, joanna newsom….could go on and on :p

Date: 2012-01-22 12:21 am (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
So I went and counted ;) You're definitely doing MUCH better than me or Renay, but 11 men versus 9 women (or bands fronted by women) is what I'd call "almost equal", rather than "almost all women" :P Obviously I'm NOT saying this to embarrass you - I just think it's really interesting (and telling) that we all perceive male as the default to such an extent that something that comes close to equality turns into "female dominated" in our minds. You're definitely not the only one who has your brain play this kind of trick on you.

Date: 2012-01-22 12:34 am (UTC)
chrisa511: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrisa511
Oh wow! That IS really telling!! I feel like I'm always listening to female musicians, but obviously not when I look at what I've listened to the most. It would be really interesting to see some sort of study done on this...or lgbt musicians vs. straight musicians. Thanks for pointing that out to me Ana :D P.S....isn't it REALLY LATE where you are?

Date: 2012-01-22 12:57 am (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
At this point, I would take "bands fronted by women". *g* I am actually not sure who the members of Moonbabies are to claim them women-only, so I may be doing the same thing Chris is!

Date: 2012-01-22 06:36 am (UTC)
lionpyh: A glass liquor bottle with a panther shape molded into the glass. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lionpyh
This is a very drive-by comment but hey, ladies, I have really been liking your thinking so far, and also
a) oh excellent, I was already thinking of putting How I Live Now on my next Yuletide list,
b) Accept that no means no—all the time
HELL YES THANKS. An approach I have taken up on a regular basis, when I refuse something and the person goes on trying, is to say as dryly as I can, 'No means no, even from a woman.' This produces two categories of response, not noticeably correlating to either gender: the persons who give a brief startled laugh and drop it, and the persons who indicate outlandish offense with their eyebrows and drop it. It is a more useful and indicative method of sorting people than I would have thought.

Date: 2012-01-24 04:03 pm (UTC)
nymeth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nymeth
Ha - I need to start trying that strategy. This is something that happens to me a lot when telling people I don't drink. Some react like it's a huge social faux pas on my part or something.

Date: 2012-01-24 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm so glad someone else had that reaction about Malinda Lo's post on gender! Writers need to write whats true - the way the world really works - as much as they need to write inspiring characters to look up to. If we can't write passive women, we can never really face up to the fact that our culture encourages women to be passive, and that, they are human beings, with real lives and real identities, instead of just tools of of some vast world order.


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