Defending Girl Power, GoldieBlox and LEGO Loving Girls

My daughter and I just watched the new ad for GoldieBlox toys (click above to watch) together and I asked her to tell me what she thought it was trying to say at the end. Her response, direct from her mouth: “Girls want more than pink toys.  Girls can do anything they want when they grow up. Oh, and we have a brain!”

Amen! What better message is there out in the world for my 10 year old daughter than this? As a staunch feminist, I try my best to encourage her to do and be anything in the world that she wants, but right out of my womb she wore pink clothing (and refused to wear pants for the first 7 years of her life), loved Disney princess toys, took dance classes and preferred everything expected of her gender. Dare she want anything different. As a mom, it unnerved me but it’s been hard to break the pattern.  However, I definitely feel that as she has gotten older and come into her own, she is realizing what rubbish these stereotypes are and the depth of choice she has.  She’s never been a real doll girl.  The dolls sit silently on her bed yearning to be played with.  But it’s not her thing. And good for her for knowing.

The video celebrates girls like her all over the world. The main characters are three racially diverse young girls who are tired of being told to play with dolls and that pink is their favorite color. Starting with a turntable and music box, the trio takes their play date and turns their house into a Rube Goldberg machine.  The results are fascinating and the video defines GIRL POWER.  You have to see it and hear the lyrics being pelted out:

Girls to build the spaceship,
Girls to code the new app,
Girls to grow up knowing
they can engineer that.

….It’s time to change! 
We deserve to see a range, 
cuz all our toys look just the same, 
and we would like to use our brains. 
We are all more than princess maids…

Admittedly, I have’t invested funds in the GoldieBlox toys.  Some of my friends aren’t so impressed with them but we all love the message they are trying to convey to our science and LEGO loving girls.

Upon closer inspection of the song because it’s SO GOOD, it’s called “Girls” and was originally produced and sung by the Beastie Boys. Goldieblox reworked the lyrics, which were originally pretty chauvinist. Here’s the video:

What you heard in the original Beastie song is this:

Girls – to do the laundry
Girls – and in the bathroom
Girls, that’s all I really want is girls
Two at a time I want girls
With new wave hairdos I want girls
I ought to whip out my girls, girls, girls, girls, girls!

Definitely not the message I want my daughter to hear.

Gothamist wrote that “GoldieBlox created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes and to encourage young girls to engage inactivities that challenge their intellect, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”

Amen.  That’s exactly what the video does.

But according to The Hollywood Reporter, the Beastie Boys don’t appreciate their message and are threatening copyright infringement. Their lawsuit reads:

“GoldieBlox created its parody video with specific goals to make fun of the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes and to encourage young girls to engage in activities that challenge their intellect, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video has gone viral on the Internet and has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song.”

Seriously? The video’s message is so important.  I want my daughter to know she grow up knowing she can become an engineer or any other profession that has historically been dominated by men. At the time this article was written, the video has been watched 7.5 million times on You Tube alone.

But there is the issue of copyright infringement.

If I were the Beastie Boys, I’d take this as a good time to promote change. To promote how far women and girls have come and how bright people like my daughter’s future is. It’s time to break down gender stereotypes and further our daughters’ futures.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. You know, I really wanted to love GoldieBlox, and of course I did love the ad, but I feel fairly manipulated by their marketing schtick. The GoldiBlox packaging is pink and purple (http://www.goldieblox.com/products/goldieblox-and-the-spinning-machine) and exactly the kind of gender stereotyping they claim to be railing against.

    As for the issue of the song…I have to say that the original was never a particular favorite of mine, but I don’t think it’s quite as anti-feminist as some of the lyrics seem when taken out of context. In the original, the singer is lamenting that he is without a girl, and when he describes why he wants a girl (to do the dishes, the laundry, etc.), it seems clear that his absurd views about women is one of the reasons he’s alone in the first place.

    I do find the GoldieBlox lawsuit somewhat disingenuous in their claim that they created the video to smash stereotypes. Let’s be honest, they created the video to sell toys. And just because it’s cute and clever, that doesn’t excuse them from copyright law.

  2. You have some great points. It is definitely questionable why they are in this situation as any company in the lime light would certainly check on the usage of music in an ad that’s about to go viral.

  3. I agree with PP. I am too “done” with marketing manipulation to really be able to trust any consumer brand any more. It’s sad, because i imagine there are people like me (a marketing professional) that really DO have passionate, true commitment to breaking down gender stereotypes.

    All that said, as a professional woman and a mom of girl, I do appreciate companies calling attention to an issue that still is creating gaps in the way our girls are educated and the way women are hired or appreciated in the workplace.

  4. Cynthia Potter says:

    Goldieblox didn’t just make a video on YouTube calling attention to gender stereotypes, they created a product to fight them. I can’t believe anyone would criticise them for having the audacity of trying to sell their product! Jen and Jacquie, your comments don’t make any sense. As for the blocks being pink and purple, last I checked, little girls the world over like pink and purple. The Beastie Boys should back down or face a backlash since their fanbase is the demographic being marketed to by Goldieblox.

  5. Cynthia–GoldieBlox created a product to make money. This is not a not-for-profit endeavor for them. And they decided to market that product by using a song copyrighted by someone else.

    Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon was more eloquent than I on the subject: http://www.salon.com/2013/11/25/how_a_toy_company_got_the_beastie_boys_wrong/