On the one hand, you have this:
It was an unusual job even for the Seabees, the U.S. Navy‘s construction forces trained to hold a hammer in one hand and a Beretta M9 in the other.
First, the team selected to build barracks high in the mountains of Afghanistan consisted of eight women, who are all stationed at Naval Base Ventura County. And second, the women completed the job far ahead of schedule.
Beating deadline made up for long days and freezing nights in tents without plumbing, building four 20-by-30-foot structures, said Gafayat Moradeyo, the mission commander. But when the women returned to Bagram air field, their Afghanistan base, they learned that they had nailed another achievement: a place in naval history.
Military officials say they are the first all-female construction team to take on a construction job from start to finish in the Seabees’ 70-year history. And they did it in record time in the barren rocky mountains of Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold and the focus of recent combat efforts.
At first, the women had their doubts about the achievement. But after checking with military historians and naval museums, they confirmed their status, said Shelby Lutrey, 29, one of the builders.
“It’s definitely something to be proud of,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with hard work and good results.”
Lego toys have always seemed pleasantly gender-neutral. Perhaps that’s why the new Lego Friends line for girls has triggered a fair bit of protest from some health and equal-rights organizations.
The new line, whose characters sport slim figures and stylish clothes, will contribute to gender stereotyping that promotes body dissatisfaction in girls, said Carolyn Costin, an eating disordersspecialist and founder of the Monte Nido Treatment Center in Malibu.
Online petitions have been started to protest the line, which includes a Butterfly Beauty Shop and a Your Fashion Designer Workshop. The International Assn. of Eating Disorder Professionals said the toys were “devoid of imagination and promote overt forms of sexism.”
The toys send girls a message “that being pretty is more important than who you are or what you can do,” Costin said in a statement.
Lego says that “the Friends line was a response to consumer demand,” which I sadly don’t doubt.
But I would argue that the company long ago turned its back on being gender-neutral, producing a product line that is roughly 85% aggressively marketed toward boys and boys exclusively, and thus Lego is in fact not so much offering a solution, as making the problem it helped create (a world of toys which segregates girls and boys by color-coded aisles, and a society that polices them there) that much worse.
PS The response of the girl (a fan of Lego, fashion, and dolls) upon seeing a Lego Friends commercial last night? “That’s just stupid.” Indeed.
h/t for the Seabees story – @maddow