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Weaponizing Some and Fantasizing Others: Gender Bias in Custom Minifigures

Published February 24, 2021 By Megan Lum | 0 Comments

As discussed in the last CMF based article, there is an unequal representation of female and male CMFs. Previously, we looked at the character categories of work and number of male and female minifigs, but the unequal representation extends even deeper than that. When looking at the accessories that different CMFs are holding, it is clear that the CMFs are fitting stereotypical gender roles.

Male CMFs were most commonly weaponed fighters and female CMFs were most often heavily feminized fantasy figures. There are 48 male fighter CMFs and 8 female fighter CMFs. This drastic inequality in representation perpetuates the stereotype of men being stronger and better fighters than women. It also perpetuates that women are best at being fantasized and not being real characters with real jobs doing real things.

These exact stereotypes are perpetuated further when looking at the specific accessories of the female and male CMFs. Even when looking at the accessories that the series 1-20 CMF minifigs are holding, the most common accessory for the male minifig is the sword, while the most common female minifig accessory is the shield, which is pretty symbolic of how these female and male characters are presented. There are many examples where it is clear that the men are seen as strong fighters and overall winners and the women are seen as cute or fun fantasy characters, which are often heavily feminized character categories. In this way, the female CMFs seem to be characters who are taken less seriously, such as a fairy or a cheerleader (of which there are multiple CMFs). In all the CMF series 1- 20, 16 male minifigs hold guns and only 1 female minifig holds a gun. Similarly, there are 6 male CMFs who hold a trophy and 1 female CMF who holds a trophy. There are even 6 male CMFs who hold axes and 0 female CMFs who hold axes. All of this just perpetuates stereotypes that our society has for women and men.

All of these details add up to create CMF series that do not represent both female and male CMFs equally or fairly. Although the newest CMFs, CMF series 20, has no overly feminized female minifigs and presents women in STEM, LEGO still has more work to do when it comes to presenting men and women in a more equal and realistic way.

Filed in: Research Tagged with: Gender Diversity

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