Lego, Stereotyping, and
Miss Representation

The ol’ boys at Lego need to see this movie, get educated, get up to speed, get bombarded with complaints about their new “girly” line of Logo sets.

Instead of drawing in girl Lego players by targeting them in their general advertising, they are putting out a line of “pink” and “curvy” Lego sets that they believe will attract girls. The message is “you are too dumb to know how to play with real Lego components; you don’t want to build anything unique, you just want to play house, right?” Bad message, Lego. You are perpetuating the misrepresentation of girls and women as “less than men” in intelligence, creativity, and problem solving. You are perpetuating the stupid stereotype.

The movie, MissRepresentation

…uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see…

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

It starts with girls — young, impressionable girls — who are bombarded by the media (and now, Lego) with the message that how they look is much more important than how they think.

Lego has always been a “thinking” toy, stimulating the brain to conceptualize in three dimensions with unique creativity. My 9 year grandson is obsessed with Lego — builds the most amazing vehicles and structures, takes them apart, and then builds other ones all of his own design. He creates scenarios where male and female figures participate equally (of course, I had to purchase female figures for him separately since few come as cops, firefighters, or construction workers). He also creates family groups and structures. If I had a granddaughter, I would hope that she would play with Lego the same way.

Lego!! Can you hear me now! Girls don’t need another misrepresentation, another wrong message. Ditch the girly Lego, add more female figures in professional roles, and market the good ol’ Lego product line with an egalitarian approach.

STOP THE STEREOTYPING!

Lego needs a smack on its corporate head

They are making Lego for Girls!! BAD IDEA,LEGO! You are perpetuating the “pink” stereotype that women are trying so hard to eliminate. Don’t they pay attention to what’s going on in the the rest of the world?

What they need to do, instead of making and marketing what basically is a line of “Lego Barbies,” is to add a lot of female figures into their existing lines and market regular Lego to girls — as they did in their more enlightened era, back in 1981.

Don’t Lego idea people ever see any news items? They are 50 years behind the times. I have heard that even the business cards Lego provides to its employees (which always feature an image of a Lego figure of the employee’s choice) offer many different male figures for male employees; the females are supposed to choose between a nurse or a cheerleader.

Elsewhere in the interwebz — if those ill-informed decision makers would just look and follow links –there is a whole generation of females who are vocally and assertively trying to affect the stereotypical ways that females and female superheroes are portrayed by the comic book and fantasy game industries. Lego’s “girly” line is going against the kinds of enlightened attitudes that intelligent informed people want for their kids. (The kind of people who spend a lot of money on Lego products.)

Lego building blocks are the staple of my 9 year old grandson’s play and learning time. He and his female playmates all use the same Lego pieces (although I have had to buy extra female figures because so few come with the sets). In their play, females are cops, firefighters, construction workers, doctors, and moms; males are cops, firefighters, construction works, doctors, and dads.

Girlie Lego figures and sets are not the answer. Lego. The answer is to spend your money NOT making PINK Legos, but rather put your money into including more female figures who are professionals and then including girls in your advertising on an equal basis with boys.

Go here and email Lego a complaint about this issue.

If you want it but it doesn’t exist,
create it.

I moved into this town two years ago after a decade of taking care of my mom. It took me about a year to get over the stress and tension of living with my (demented) mother and (set-in-his-ways) brother for several years. And then my mother passed away.

For a year after that, until now, I have been trying to find a place for myself in this larger community. I joined a gym but found it all very depressing (and expensive). I joined a quilting group, figuring that I like to sew and might enjoy it. But I didn’t for all kinds of reasons, including that I have neither the space where I live nor the design talent and experience to get into quilting. And I find it boring to quilt from a kit.

So, I did more knitting to keep me busy, but that didn’t fill my need for community connection. I tried a couple of book clubs, but they never talked about the books and I didn’t quite fit in with the memberships.

So, I joined the Jewish Community Center, mostly for the Zumba and aerobics and gym facilities, and that helped to get me out of the house. But it still wasn’t what I was hoping to find. The JCC offers some other programs that I might have taken, but they were all at night (and I don’t drive at night) and cost more than I can afford.

So, I joined up to be a Hospice volunteer, got trained, and just met my first assignment. That was a start, but not exactly to the point.

What I miss from my old life are the people with whom I worked and the groups to which I belonged in which I took some leadership. Some were peer discussion groups; some were expressive arts therapy groups. They were groups that dealt with substantive personal issues and opened doors to creative and spiritual exploration (even though I am an atheist). I always made friends with people in those groups because we had those interests in common.

So, I went on a search for a group — preferably a therapeutic group dealing with elder issues or major life transitions.

Uh uh. No such thing. Not even within a 25 mile drive.

So, I drafted a proposal to start such a group under the auspices of the Jewish Community Center, and, since I am a trained study circle facilitator, I volunteered to lead such a group.

I’ve done that before — started a group to which I wanted to belong. It has worked in the past for me, and I’m hoping it will work again.

If it doesn’t, with the SAD season starting, I’m going to find it tough to muddle on through.

Oh well, I’ll think of something……

too soon old, too late smart
OR NOT

I am about to go to war.

I didn’t take the advice of friends and family and went ahead and bought a brand of computer that turned out to be the mother of all lemons. It had problems from day one, but, a persistent bitch that I am, I kept calling the customer service techs and kept getting each problem (I thought) taken care of. Until it finally totally crashed.

So, they sent an on-site repair person, who put in a new motherboard and hard drive.

Uh uh. Still no boot up.

I’m trying to get a refund but cannot seem to be put in touch with someone who can take care of that. (It’s a couple of weeks past the 30 days during which one can do a return.)

Today, I did what I should have done before I ordered the infernal machine and googled for complaints about that company. I found hundreds. Maybe even thousands.

So, I sent a letter to the company, enclosed copies of some of the complaints that I copied from just one website, and gave them a choice: give me a refund of the price of the computer and the service contract that I bought with it, or I’m going to war. Online. Virally. Maybe even with a youtube plea to that company to take pity on a poor old lady living on a retirement income. Certainly with a website that documents all of the thousand complaints about that company. And then I’ll tweet and fb the url. And I’ll file my own complaints on every consumer complaint site I can find.

I will become a thorn in their side, an enemy to the death — a hellcat of an old lady whom they wish they had never met.

I might be old, but I’m internet smart and know how to use it as a weapon in my defense.

Unless they refund all of my money and email me the UPS postage to send the damned thing back; then I’ll back off. As the Tao de Ching says — “no fight, no blame.”

But if they don’t — well, did I ever tell you that Xena is my idol?

ADDENDUM: Actually, the retailer from whom I bought it has just about as many complaints. Maybe I’ll make this fight a two-fer.

“attention must be paid to such a person”

This title is a quote from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” and it’s sticking in my mind after finishing a book I just couldn’t wait to finish and wish I could have memorized — Jennifer Stuller’s Inkstained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology.

Since I discovered Wonder Woman at about age 7 (1947) I have devoured all kinds of media that featured kick-ass females, and Stuller’s book brought me up to date on some of the ones who showed up over the past 20 years (when I slipped up a little on following my scholarly avocation.) Well, I didn’t slip up completely because I do know about many of those females to which she refers, from Aeon Flux to Zoe Washburn.

So here’s the challenge I would love to put out there to current fantasy/sci fi writers: create a female superhero who is older than 60 and still has powers she can and does use. (But don’t make her into a Granny Weatherwax.) Attention should be paid to such a person. IMHO. And no LOL.

Speaking of people who should be paid attention to, how come someone as social-media savvy, widely-well-read, prolifically articulate, comfortably creative, and energetically willing as The One True Bix can’t find a job??!!

HELLO, JOSS WHEDON, MUTANT ENEMY PRODUCTIONS, FANDOM INDUSTRIES, CAN YOU HEAR ME!

Attention should be paid to such a person. Certainly, a living wage should be paid to such a person.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m his mother. Really.

_______________________________________________________

P.S. Someone should create an older female “superhero” — maybe one whose power is like that of the old “The Shadow” (“cloud men’s minds” to be able to outwit villains) and make a movie with Nichelle Nicholls as the star. She could be the mother of an existing younger female superhero. Great role model for mother-mentoring-daughter. And great counterpoint to current overly sexy female superheroes created by male fantasies. (Maybe her name could be Chhaya, which is the Hindu word for “shadow.”) Just sayin’.

an appeal to the financial backers of Chump Trump

Donald Trump is an embarrassment to your support of his television program. I am boycotting any program and product tied in any way to that egomaniacal racist. Do us all a favor and DUMP TRUMP. He is a national disgrace and we will make him a financial liability.

I have sent the above note to the following who provide support to Donal Trump:
Jeremy.Gaines@nbcuni.com, Rebecca.Marks@nbcuni.com, Lauren.Kapp@nbcuni.com, Kathy.Kelly-Brown@nbcuni.com, ataylor@erac.com

And I went to the sites listed below and filled out their forms with the same message.

http://www.drpeppersnapplegroup.com/contact/

http://www.campingworld.com/contactUsForm.cfm?&contactValue=General%20Questions

http://www.farouk.com/contactus.aspx

Please feel free to do the same.

The Real Wonder Woman
vs David E. Kelley

If you’re not a member of the fandom community, you probably don’t know about the growing criticism of NBC for choosing David E. Kelley to write the script for a new series about Wonder Woman. (Just Google “Wonder Woman David E. Kelley” and you’ll find out more than you really want to know).

As a more than half-century fan of Wonder Woman, and as a shorter term fan of Kelley’s previous tv scripts, there’s something I want to say.

It’s a matter of “awe.”

Kelley’s female characters, such as Allie McBeal, have been criticized for being anti-feminist. I maintain that those characters are not meant to be “archetypes” or “heroes.” Neither inspiration nor role models, rather they emerge from some small portion of female idiosyncrasies with which many of us identify and also recognize as not necessarily the best of what we are. Actually, his male characters develop the same way, portrayed as flawed and human in ways that make us smile with poignant understanding.

But that’s not what Wonder Woman was ever meant to be. Wonder Woman was never meant to be fully human. As I blogged once before and quoted from here:

From her inception, Wonder Woman was not out to just stop criminals, but to reform them. On a small island off Paradise Island was Transformation Island, a rehabilitation complex created by the Amazons to house and reform criminals.

Armed with her bulletproof bracelets, magic lasso, and her amazonian training, Princess Diana was the archetype of the perfect woman from the mind of her creator, William Moulton Marston. She was beautiful, intelligent, strong, but still possessed a soft side. At that time, her powers came from ‘Amazon Concentration,’ not as a gift from the gods.

Wonder Woman’s magic lasso was supposedly forged from the Magic Girdle of Aphrodite, which Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s) mother was bequeathed by the Goddess. Hephastateus borrowed the belt, removed links from it, and that is where the magic lasso came from. It was unbreakable, infinitely stretchable, and could make all who are encircled in it tell the truth.

That was the Wonder Woman who inspired me as a 7-year old who felt that she never did fit into her family of origin, the pre-teener and teenager who yearned for a role as an adult that didn’t fit into the 50s mentality.

While Allie McBeal made us smile because we see part of ourselves in her antics, Wonder Woman makes us dream about what we might still become. Male or female, we need awesome and inspiring mythologies to propel us out of the ordinary and problematic parts of ourselves that characters like Allie so touchingly reflect.

Kelley’s “Harry’s Law” starring Kathy Bates is my new favorite show (even though the part was originally written for a male.) But Harriet is not an archetype either. She’s a very specific kind of individual with very human personality traits. We might find her inspiring, but not really “awesome.”

We females need Wonder Woman as the awesome myth she originally was intended to be — connected to other mythic females on Paradise Island more than she is to the mundane human world in which she has to find a place. Her struggle is to fulfill her destiny while still finding a way to make and enjoy her place in the everyday world.

Because isn’t that what so many of us still feel is our psychological destiny — to feel the power of our mythic history and to use that power to make the world a better place for others and for ourselves?

Maybe David E. Kelley can write Wonder Woman the way she deserves to be written. Maybe. But I can’t help feeling that Joss Whedon (who understood why we were awed by his Buffy) would have been a much better choice.

Please, Mr. Kelley, don’t dilute the awesomeness of Wonder Woman. She doesn’t deserve it. And neither do we.

Our Secular America: the truth is out there (part 1)

Every once in a while I get obsessed about some issue — usually not a minor one. I try to deal with my obsessions with some degree of intelligence.

Occasionally I do a really worthwhile job, and so before I embark upon several posts that are developing from my current obsession, I’m going to share some evidence of my credibility, my ability to do a worthy job of intelligently obsessing.

More than six years ago, I posted a piece that is no longer accessible online because some of my archives were lost when I switched from a MoveableType to a WordPress blog format. But I did have the text saved as a document and it will be my next post.

Right now, however, I am self-servingly sharing part of an old post with the response I got to that six-year-old piece from a (then) doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago. And here it is:

Hello Elaine,
I recently discovered your website, and was so delighted (and sincerely impressed with the very good content) that I mention it in my most recent column, “Voices of the Peoples” at the ClarkPost. This month’s column is called “The Death of Democracy in America: The Foundering Fathers and the White Roots of Peace” and includes a paragraph or two about your site.

I do hope you’ll understand my discussion of your site in the appreciative and playful spirit it is intended. It is a wonderful place to visit.

Another dissenting Crone,
Lilian Friedberg, PhD
Cognitive Dissident

Dr. Friedberg’s piece [no longer available online] is long but worth reading for the well-researched perspective she gives not only on the death of democracy in America, but also on its origins and the misconceptions most people have about its development.

Of course, to me, the best parts are what she says about Kalilily Time, which I post here with a big dissident smile on my face. Note that the kitschy clip art to which she refers was the design of my old format.

To my cognitively dissonant delight—one ray of inspiration did appear on an otherwise dim string of search results which led me to the weblog of Elaine of Kalilily, Self-Proclaimed Resident Crone of Blogdom, who also describes herself as a “True Blue American,” and whose blog entry for November 5, 2004, “My Blue America,” glimmers with subtly placed signs of hope. The real gems are buried in the links she supplies: truths debunking myths of Puritans fleeing religious persecution only to export it to the colonies in the form of domestic tyranny abroad, truths about witch-burnings, and about the foundational principle of genocide underlying the birth of this nation—on a link that’s worth singling out here, since it’s rather cleverly cached behind a hyperlinked reference to the military that benignly obscures the page’s content. [link no longer works] (Genocide and The American Indian Peoples)

Nor did I leave Kalilily’s site without finding the scoop I was looking for on the founding fathers, in particular as they relate to the third part of this essay, The White Roots of Peace—but we’ll return to that in a moment.

Emoticons cannot express my response to the quality and truth content of these treasures on a site that looked, at first blue blush, to be an exercise in kitsch- and cupcake-artistry. Just goes to show, never judge a blog by its clip art.

About the time I hit the genocide link, I went back and, with a quizzed “who-the-hell-is-this-person” look, and clicked on the “ABOUT ME” link. Voila!: My faith in the American people restored. At the risk of offending the self-proclaimed Crone of Blogdom, I must admit what first came to mind: “Well, I’ll be damned,” I thought, “it’s just a little old retired grandma sitting there raising hell at the keyboard!” (That wouldn’t be an altogether fair assessment of a rather accomplished career woman and crafty writer who truly has earned her Crone-Coronation, so I invite the reader to read her site for the rest of the story.

And it was on Elaine of Kalilily’s site that I found one of the spokes in the wheel I was hoping to “uninvent.”

The people of the Six Nations, also known by the French term, Iroquois Confederacy, call themselves the Hau de no sau nee (ho dee noe sho nee) meaning People Building a Long House. Located in the northeastern region of North America, originally the Six Nations was five and included the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The sixth nation, the Tuscaroras, migrated into Iroquois country in the early eighteenth century. Together these peoples comprise the oldest living participatory democracy on earth. Their story, and governance truly based on the consent of the governed, contains a great deal of life-promoting intelligence for those of us not familiar with this area of American history. The original United States representative democracy, fashioned by such central authors as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, drew much inspiration from this confederacy of nations. In our present day, we can benefit immensely, in our quest to establish anew a government truly dedicated to all life’s liberty and happiness much as has been practiced by the Six Nations for over 800 hundred years. The Six Nations and the Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth.

More than six years have gone by since I wrote the lost-in-cyberspace “My Blue America.” The dispute over the origins of our secular democratic roots has reached disturbing proportions, and, sadly, many of the most vocal political people in this country still don’t get it.

So, watch for my re-post of “My Blue America,” which will be Part 2 of my series on “Our Secular America.”