I was fairly nervous to post what I wrote about GoldieBlox. I had no problem with people disagreeing with me — believe me, if we didn’t already own toys that were similar and much more versatile than GoldieBlox, I could have seen myself considering it. I knew I would be annoyed if people didn’t give it a close read and skipped down to the comment section to start stating their own thoughts before they finished the post. But mostly, I wondered if not supporting another woman made me a traitor.
It’s an idea that came up a lot with the 2008 election: were you a traitor to women if you chose Barack Obama as the nominee over Hillary Clinton? It’s something that Josh and I discuss every so often: are you a traitor towards other Jews if you speak critically about other Jews? There are enough outsiders speaking ill of both groups — women and Jews. (The list is much bigger in terms of groups that are shat upon. I’m just listing these two because they’re my example.) Isn’t it worse if it comes from the inside, from someone who is part of the group?
I know there are some women who will say yes, to not support the work of another woman is to be a traitor towards women. But by that definition, I should support the work of Michelle Bachmann. Anyone who has spent any time on this blog is probably snorting over the idea of me lending my support to Michelle Bachmann. But that is what it means to blindly give your support to another in the group. It means to ignore the message itself and to only consider the messenger.
And while I can do that when it comes to close friends and family — to stand by them in support regardless of how I feel about what they are saying or doing — I can’t say that it’s healthy to extend the same to strangers. It would mean extending support to 50% of the world’s population. I understand the sentiment that there are enough men holding back women that we don’t need women holding back women too. But I’m uncomfortable with the idea of giving someone support simply due to their sexual organs.
And yet, at the end of the day there is the other side of the truth: all things being equal, I tend to support those within my group over those outside my group. If there were two toys, both equally good, and one was made by a woman and one was made by a man, I’d probably lean towards buying the toy by the woman. Just because. If all things were equal and there were two candidates, one a Christian man and one a Jewish man, I’d probably choose the Jewish man. Just because. Why are we so keen to support complete strangers who happen to share one defining quality? It’s a natural instinct to want something good for a member of your group, especially if we believe that good begets good. If I have your back, you’ll have mine.
Hopefully it was understood that I was critical not of Debbie Sterling nor GoldieBlox itself but of the idea of blindly saying, “this rocks!” without actually knowing anything about the toy. Because I still haven’t actually found anyone in the mainstream media discussing the toy, only how awesome the kids were in the video or the fun song or the amazing Rube Goldberg machine or the message behind the product. I keep waiting to find someone writing about the toy itself. But none of the mainstream coverage contained a review of the GoldieBlox. Whether it’s a well-made toy. Whether it has value. For instance, why should I spend $29 on GoldieBlox when I can spend $49 on Lego and get 50 set activities and limitless creative ones? There could be a very good reason for why I should buy GoldieBlox over Legos, but I’ve yet to hear it.
I’ve only been told that I should support it because we need to be supportive of smart women who step forward with good ideas.
And that’s my problem with the coverage; and I understand that this is partially because things move so quickly on the Internet that we need to react quickly because the next viral video or bit of news is coming down the conveyor belt like chocolates in an I Love Lucy episode. We need to watch, post to Facebook, and move on. And maybe this product is worth supporting, or maybe it’s not. But I don’t want to support a project just because it was created by a woman. I want to support a project because it’s a sound product that fills a niche missing in the toy industry that also happens to be made by a woman.
And maybe that makes me a traitor.