Times A-changin’: A seven-year-old girl’s open letter to Lego about gender inequality

Published: February 21, 2014

Charlotte's letter to Lego has been retweeted and shared thousands of times on social forums. SOURCE: SOCIETYPAGES.ORG

Charlotte Benjamin, a seven-year-old girl, visited a Lego store and noticed that the few girl legos that were available were only ‘sit at home, go to the beach, shop and had no jobs’ while the boys ‘went on adventures, worked, saved people, had jobs and even swam with sharks’.

That’s quite an observation and a strong opinion for a child so young.

Lego is a popular construction toy manufactured by The Lego Group, a private company based in Billund, Denmark. Lego consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks and a collection of mini figures and gears. Lego blocks can be connected and assembled together to make houses, cars and buildings.

Her father posted a picture of the seven-year-old’s letter to TheSocietyPages.org in late January, which was quickly shared thousands of times on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.

Her letter is definitely an eye opener to how times have changed, how women have changed and how their roles have changed. Women are working two jobs at a time whilst taking care of their families. Most of them have even become pilots, policewomen, lawyers and news reporters. Our world has changed and developed so much that women are elected premiers of countries and they are doing way more than just shopping and cleaning the house. In fact, they are entrepreneurs running multinational companies and are also high ranking government officials.

Lego introduced a new female scientist figurine in September last year called Professor C Bodin, winner of the ‘Nobrick Prize’.

Although Lego has recently started to include more female figures to their sets, they are still a minority.

Here is a text of Charlotte Benjamin’s letter:

Charlotte’s letter to Lego complaining about the lack of ‘girl people’ in their toy sets has made the little girl a hero on social media and has most certainly started a debate on gender inequality.

I, somewhat, agree with the concern expressed in the letter but not completely. When I look around at various toys and kids story books, I find that princesses are always saved by their ‘prince charming’ or ‘noble knight in shining armour’. Rarely have we come across a fairy tale or story where a girl fights bad guys to save the boy.

Male and female stereotypes have been prevalent since a long time. It is not hard to see a connection between girls playing with dolls and boys playing with cars. There is a widespread segregation in ‘female’ and ‘male’ professions. Nurses, primary school teachers and caregivers of most kinds are mostly female whereas engineers, computer scientists and mechanics are mostly male. Such patterns have changed and are developing every day; while growing up, I always read or watched cooking shows that included women but now, as I watch cooking shows with my own children, I see that a number of men enjoy the field of culinary arts.

A number of women have entered the fields of Science and have gone on to be a part of the government sector in the last 20 or 25 years. Every sport has a women’s team now and have won medals. The world is changing every second. There are families where both husband and wife have day jobs, who then attend to house chores together.

On a personal note, my younger daughter never played with dolls. She likes to build robots and plays basketball. The various likes and dislikes vary from person to person.

Perhaps the time to realise this shift in gender roles is now. Don’t limit them.

Almas Akhtar

Almas Akhtar

The writer is a blogger, author, an ardent cricket fan, a movie buff, and an avid traveler. Her latest novella “The Fearful Lion” won an honourable mention at the 2018 New York Book Festival.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.