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Girl's letter to Lego sparks gender debate

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  1. A seven-year-old girl's letter to Lego complaining about the lack of "girl people" in their construction toy sets is earning praise on social media and stirring debate about gendered toys.
  2. Charlotte Benjamin wrote the letter and her father sent it to Sociological Images, a blog run by sociology professor Lisa Wade. The photo of the letter was posted to Sociological Images' Twitter and Facebook feeds.
  3. "My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I love Legos but I don't like that there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls.

    "Today I went to a store and saw Legos in two sections: the pink (girls) and the blue (boys). All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.

    "I want you to make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK!?! Thank you.

    "From Charlotte."

  4. The image has been shared 4,000 times on Facebook and retweeted 2,000 times. It's also been featured in posts on Boing Boing, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and the Daily Mail.

    Charlotte is garnering praise in comments and replies everywhere it's posted.
  5. Charlotte is going to change the world.
  6. The Lego Friends line was introduced in 2011 and has more pink, purple and light blue bricks than other Lego themes, as well as redesigned figures with slimmer bodies and legs than the famous block-like Lego figure.

    It's been criticized for being heavily gendered and reinforcing traditional roles for women.
  7. At the time of its debut, Lego responded to some of the criticism on Twitter, saying that it was designed with girls in mind, to introduce the construction toy to "more girls than the [approximately] nine per cent we currently reach."
  8. Lego said the Friends "mini-doll" was designed to have a "more realistic appearance" than the traditional Lego mini-figure.
  9. And, as some fans pointed out in response to Charlotte's letter, the strategy behind Friends appears to have worked. Lego credited the theme for the 35 per cent rise in profits they saw in 2012.
  10. On the Facebook post from Sociological Images, some people pointed out that, contrary to Charlotte's criticism, the Lego Friends do have jobs, even adventures.
  11. Lisa, if you *actually look at the Friends sets* (which nobody seems to do!) you will see teachers, scientists, business owners, veterinarians, bakers, musicians, lifeguards, martial artists, etc. But because they were designed with a certain demographic in mind and they use a particular color scheme, well then the theme must *obviously* be focused on frivolousness.Except that's not the case at all. But people only see what they want to see, I guess!
  12. Aly the Tour Manager for the group she's named 'Lego Friends Band' #Lego #Legofriends
    Aly the Tour Manager for the group she's named 'Lego Friends Band' #Lego #Legofriends
  13. I get the critique, and I know nothing I say as a LEGO fanboy will be taken seriously, but the most recent set of collectible Minifigures has the highest ratio yet of female-to-male (6:10, compared to the usual 5:11). The "Friends" line of "girly LEGO" has become their number 3 seller, trailing only Star Wars and Ninjago (the latter does have at least one strong female character, a ninja who's pretty damn awesome). One of the sub-themes of the Friends line in 2014 is going to be "Jungle," which has things like a collapsing rope bridge, jungle treehouses, waterfalls, and other adventure locations. And they've had female scientists and martial artists and athletes and surgeons and construction workers and pretty much every career that they've given to LEGO dudes. It's not equitable. But it's a hell of a lot better than it was ten years ago.
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