Rebel Grrrl

Girls to the front

Recently, for the umpteenth time, I rewatched “The Punk Singer”, a documentary about feminist singer Kathleen Hanna who fronted the band Bikini Kill.

Kathleen is well known for being an outspoken radical feminist, credited with launching the third-wave of feminism when she helped create the riot grrrl punk movement. At Bikini Kill concerts, Hanna would encourage and enforce that women were to move to the front of the stage. The “girls to the front” concept was symbolic in empowering women at Bikini Kill concerts.

I’m no stranger to feminism. My wife majored in Women’s Studies at university, and has imparted feminist virtues in me. The Female Eunuch sits amongst many feminist writings in our bookshelves. We have an International Women’s Day tea towel (yes, I grasp the irony of this).


All the doves that fly past my eyes,
Have a stickiness to their wings,
In the doorway of my demise I stand,
Encased in the whisper you taught me
Bikini Kill – Feels Blind

So why am I writing this on a toy photography blog? Let me explain…

I’m not about to reignite the debate about the gender gap in Lego minifigure numbers. We’ve all seen the numbers.

Nor am I about to discuss the topic of female toy photographers in a male dominated field. I’d like to think we can all appreciate that the term toy photographer is gender-neutral and therefore whether the person behind the lens has a penis or not really shouldn’t matter.

I am however challenging myself, and anyone else that wants to join in, to embrace my inner riot grrrl, and spend the next two weeks photographing only female Lego minifigures.

Dare ya to do what you want
Dare ya to be who you will
Bikini Kill – Double Dare Ya

I’ll put my hand up and admit that I often overlook female Lego figs as subject matter. Scanning through my posts here, for example, only two out of sixteen (not including this one) contain a female character in the featured image. And that ratio is even less on Instagram. Is this purely a numbers thing? Is it simply the fact that I own more male Lego than females? Is it because I can identify with male minifigures more readily? I don’t know. Yet, by making a conscious decision to get my Lego “girls to the front”, maybe this will change.

Aren't they all wonder women?
Aren’t they all wonder women?

That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood
I got news for you, she IS!
Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl

Inspired by Kathleen Hanna, I’ll be posting only #legogirlstothefront shots on Instagram for the following fortnight.


  1. aliceincleveland

    I’m a fan of this, let there be no mistake, however, I can’t help but notice in your kick-off image you have chosen Wonder Woman to hold a frying pan while cooking a hot dog. There is other stuff in the background certainly, but front and center she is reduced to what is often considered “woman’s work.”

    Added to this is the caption “Aren’t they all wonder women?” which seems to imply you are suggesting woman take on a majority of the household chores and should be recognized and praised for that.

    Why did you choose this specific object out of all of those options?

    I’d like to see movements in toy photography move past the idea that we should have more female subjects just did feminism’s sake. The field isn’t as simple as male dominance in numbers. The problem with toy photography is not a lack of women, but with the ratio of hugely popular woman artist. Why is that? Is it still the same old boys club? Is it an influence of Star Wars, arguably just a more popular toy?

    Even as I write this I’m contributing to a further problem. I’m talking about toy photography in terms of boys and girls, but the gender language is insufficient. Third wave means to move past gender.

    I wonder what a fortnight of non binary gender looks like?

    • I agonised over selecting a photo for this post, yet chose this one hoping to stir up responses like yours.
      I’m sorry you got “a woman’s work is never done” from it. The wiener in the fry pan was pointed directly at myself, and not intended to imply a “woman’s work”. The “aren’t they all wonder women” refers to ALL women, irregardless of their role.
      Yes, third wave focuses on abolishing gender role expectations and stereotypes, as I touched on with gender-neutral essence of the term toy photography. I guess the image I ended up selecting for this post is an attempt to open up conversations about abolishing gender roles, especially in the toy photography community, by evoking responses like yours.
      I apologise if I’ve offended, and I thank you for your words.

      • aliceincleveland

        No offense taken. Just wanted to point it out given the context of the post. It is, after all, my interpretation of your photo. Sometimes when I post a photo people say stuff about it that I never thought of. Sometimes I’m astounded, sometimes confused, sometimes I believe they are giving me way to much credit. I always take these thoughts and yet to utilize them. It’s not always appropriate of course, but it helps me to see the world in a different way – through another set of eyes. I do generally find that valuable, or at the very least interesting.

        I would continue our conversation and say why did you feel you needed this particular image to evoke a response? What do you see here that tells you it will be the kindling?

  2. I’ve counted that the first page of my Flickr stream contains 23 photos with at least one female minifigure (out of a little less than 100). Even though I’d guess this is pretty close to the ratio of female minifigures I own, it was a surprise for me to see that I actually took so many photos with a female minifigure. I’m myself a feminist since almost ever, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an unconscious choice to include them in my photos.

    However I’m definitely not going to spend the next two weeks taking only photos of female minifigures because Shelly proposed before to take photos of robots. (On the other hand the minifig I’ve photographed the most in Norway is a female alien, so I’m going to post in the next days/weeks a lot photos with at least one female minifigure.)

    • I’m going to weigh in here real quick on the comment: “Shelly proposed before to take photos of robots”. I never suggested people spend the next month taking photos of robots. I announced a contest. What you do with that information is your option. I think Brett makes a valid point about women imagery in toy photography. There isn’t enough of it, unless you count Rey. I for one will be supporting this hash tag over the next two weeks and I will through in a few robot images for good measure.

      • I’m sorry if I miswrote but I didn’t mean you suggested to spend the next month taking photos of robots. I should probably have read again my comment and used other words before sending it. I also think Brett makes a valid point. I just wanted to say that the photos I want to make next won’t necessarily include woman, because they’ll most likely include beings without a sex. But then, it won’t prevent me from supporting the hashtag too because I won’t post those photos before a while anyway.

        • Thank you for clarifying my friend. For me the biggest difficulty with any event like this is the lack of warning. I usually am working weeks in advance on my projects. Luckily I knew this was coming so I’ve had a week to gather a few images. Whether you support the tag by posting a relevant photo now, or a month from now, I think it’s a great idea to participate! 😀

  3. Ana

    This just got me out of bed to pack my girls for tomorrow, in the hopes of being able to take a pic at the airport or somewhere else.
    I can see why the first thing one would thing is “ok a girl with a pan, typical”… but I guess we can also take the image not so literal and go a little bit more into the “weiner”, the woman, the face she is making and the subject of this post.
    I also have so many ideas I just wish To be able to post them or make it happen.

    As a woman in toy photography and”stuck in plastic” this post means so much and I really appreciate it!

    Thanks Brett

  4. Leila @brickandmordor

    Very pleased with this post and your inspiration for it (I loved that documentary!) Wish I had time to create new images for this time frame! I’ll try. I look forward to others’ contributions.

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