24 October 2009

Imaginext Toys, or how my vagina disqualifies me from having a complex imagination

Fisher price makes a lovely set of toys under the brand Imaginext.  It covers virtually all the subjects which fascinate children- superheroes, firemen, astronauts, aliens, and more.  The toys are high quality, affordable, and interchangeable.  Kids love them, and from a distance they look surprising gender neutral.

On closer examination, the Imaginext line contains exactly zero female characters.  No firewoman, no batgirl, not even a stray paramedic with long hair.  Because, apparently, girls do not play with the toys and boys would not buy them if they had girl characters.  Or at least that is what Fisher Price Corporate would lead you to believe.

Apparently they have a separate line for girls, called “Precious Places”.  The Precious Places sets are pink, with lots of ball gowns and princesses.  Oh, and they have male characters!  Princes!  No reason to have a female firefighter when you can use magic to save the swan and still make it to the ball in time!

All sarcasim aside, children- both boys and girls, need to see male and female characters in their toys.  They not only need to see themselves in their toys, but also see their brothers and sisters to help them construct a healthy understanding of gender and gender roles in our society.  Fisher price does a reasonably decent job doing this with it's Little People brand, so why not carry this tradition on to Imaginext?  What is so wrong about making a Batgirl, or a firewoman?

If you agree this is an unacceptable practice on the part of Fisher Price, and it's parent company Mattel, please join me in e-mailing Fisher Price Corporate at fpconaff@fisher-price.com .

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