JON SALISBURY: Political correctness

Katie Roberts

By Katie Roberts

March 12th 2012 at 10:35AM
JON SALISBURY: Political correctness

People sharing their politically correct opinions are bugging our columnist this month.

I don’t know about you but I get pretty narked at the pious overtones of people with a politically correct bugbear to get off their chest that they simply have to share with the rest of the world.

The problem is that social media and the growth of the blogosphere have meant people with very little of real value to share, now have a global platform.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of free speech and the internet has certainly democratised debate, but it has also unleashed wave after wave of ill-conceived argument and convinced the perpetrators that they have something of value to impart.

Lego is the latest target of such a campaign with a group of people deciding the new Friends range was far too ‘gender specific’ by being aimed at girls.

Hang on, a toy range aimed at girls? Whatever next? Action toys for boys?
The argument goes something like this: the new line will contribute to gender stereotyping that promotes body dissatisfaction in girls, according to Carolyn Costin, an eating disorders specialist.

Online petitions have been started to protest against the line and the toys have been accused of being 'devoid of imagination and promote overt forms of sexism'.

Lego said that Friends was a response to consumer demand: "We heard very clear requests from moms and girls for more details and interior building, a brighter colour palette, a more realistic figure, role play opportunities and a story line that they would find interesting," Mads Nipper, executive vice president at Lego said.

"We want to correct any misinterpretation that Lego Friends is our only offering for girls. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of Lego products already available."

I don’t want to oversimplify the gender-neutral argument because nothing is ever simply black and white. There are many shades to this debate but I hope that any young child, given a balanced upbringing by its parents and a decent education, will be able to make their own mind up about what they want to play with, although you can never underestimate the part peer pressure may play.

Political correctness may influence a small number of parents but, as retailer Helen Gourley at The Hub in Dunblane says, the gender issue: "Doesn't seem to be affecting our sales. Lego Friends is selling well because most wee girls love it.

"Politics doesn’t come into it."