Are you one of the approximately 85 billion people out there1 who have helped a recent YouTube commercial for GoldieBlox become a viral video sensation? In it, three young girls turn their entire house and all of its contents into an impressively elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, they sing a Beastie Boys song with new lyrics denouncing traditional “girl toys” like princesses, and they try to sell you some other toys that will apparently turn your daughter into an engineer.
We recently read a funny blog post by Erica from “No Sleep ‘Til College” about her child’s reaction to the commercial. Spoiler alert: Erica’s daughter concluded that the toys were for boys.
So we decided to do the same experiment with our three-year-old daughter, Sammy. After all, she’s a girl with a boy’s name. So she totally gets feminism.
After we all watched the video together, our conversation (modeled after Erica’s) went something like this:
Us: Do you know what this video is all about? The girls wanted toys that would let them use their imaginations and use cool stuff to make something crazy and fun.
Her: I like it.
Us: Yeah? So you understand that the video is about toys that you can use to build fun stuff like you saw in the video?
Her: Yeah, I like it.
Us: (high-fiving each other repeatedly) Yes! Our daughter is immune to gender stereotypes! We are totally BA parents!
Her: I really like that playhouse.
Us: Wait, what?
Turns out, all Sammy actually got out of the video was an obsession with this kid-sized house made out of newspaper and masking tape that some little girl peeks out of for like .05 seconds in the middle of the commercial, and she spent the following several minutes making certain we understood that she did not want the toys that help you build something, but that she did want that playhouse. Really bad.
Oh well. At least we can take solace in the fact that it’s totally normal for preschool-aged kids to have super rigid ideas about gender (even more rigid than those of adults). Children’s views tend to get increasingly inflexible until about five years old, at which time they usually pull the magic princess wands out of their butts and relax a little. But only a little. Because let’s be honest, there are a lot of adults out there who still think like four-year-olds.
But even though Sammy wasn’t sold on the product today, we bet GoldieBlox will still sell a bazillion of these things2 to parents who are eager to help their daughters engineer their way around whatever glass ceiling tries to get in their way someday.
As for today, the only ceiling we’ll be putting above our kid’s head is one made of newspaper. Now where is that masking tape?