This is a Lego brick.
It’s in black and white because I overexposed the hell out of the original shot, but other than that, it’s an ordinary Lego brick. It has four sides, six nubs on top, and a nub on the bottom. You know what it doesn’t have?
There are no boy Legos. There are no girl Legos. A Lego is a Lego is a Lego.
You know what also doesn’t have a gender? The things you make out of Legos.
Now that everyone is thinking “wtf is she on about now?”, a few hours ago someone retweeted something and it floated in front of me. I’ll be honest- I don’t remember which of my friends retweeted it, and I don’t know the original source – the person who said it is not someone I know, and I can’t even remember who it was. I do know what my reaction to it was, though. Here I am, several hours later typing angrily into my keyboard, because I need to say this.
What it was about was a Lego build of Venice, Italy, seen somewhere. The comment was “Finally, a Lego build for the ladies.”
Oh. Hell. No.
Not for nothing, but Zaha Hadid kicked in the door to the Pritzker Prize in 2004, and even that took too damned long. But that one sentence explains so much of why women in architecture and design *STILL* have to fight tooth and nail. STILL. It’s ridiculous, and I’m not letting it go by without calling it out.
Venice is a beautiful city. It’s lovely and romantic, which is (I am quite sure) what was meant by the comment. But it is also a place of *fantastic* engineering. It is a city based on the *technical marvel* of the built environment vs. nature. I am damned sure that was *not* what was meant by the retweeted comment.
On my desk I have two Lego builds. One of the Empire State Building. The other is of the Guggenheim NYC. Are those Lego models not for me?
Nope. No penis. Still female.
The point of Lego- which is still the greatest toy ever for anyone who loves to build, adult or child, is that it allows you to create anything. Anything. From a firehouse, to the Empire State Building, to Venice, to a bed for your cat. NONE of these things has a gender. There are no “builds for the ladies” without the inherent assumption that OTHER builds are for the men.
This particularly kind of gender-biased and odious thinking in architecture is why in a magazine spread about architects, you have to BEG them to include a woman, even though there’s no shortage of talented women in architecture. It’s about why women routinely decide not to deal with engineering- because they have to deal with stupid shit like this all the time. It’s about why when you say youre a designer, as a woman, what people *hear* on the other end is “decorator*.
It’s RIDICULOUS. And here in MY space? I will not stand for it.
Besides, gang, it insults *MEN* just as much. For everything assigned to women in some offhanded gesture of casual, institutionalized sexism, it excludes men from that same thing. That’s nonsense too, and I’m not having it.
Legos? Neutral. Lego builds? Neutral. ARCHITECTURE? Neutral. DESIGN? Neutral.