The launch in Spain of a series of Playmobil toys representing historical figures stirred a controversy for no woman figure was available.
The publisher Planeta de Agostini issued a statement saying that male characters were the “standard” in this type of collection before deciding to balance out and introduce female figures in its weekly edition.
I came across this particular story as I was browsing through feature articles on El Pais online website and the headline struck me.
“I don’t want my sons to learn History without women”, was what it said. Well, I had to admit I didn’t want that either.
Apparently many people in Spain shared a similar mind as the campaign seemed to have turned into quite a controversy on social media.
A Planeta DeAgostini y Playmobil se les olvidó poner éstas en su “Aventura de la Historia” sin mujeres. pic.twitter.com/lZqpPTyWoE
— Miky (@miky_co) 28 août 2016
*Planeta de Agostini and Playmobil forgot to put these in their “Adventure of History” without women.
Digging deeper, I found out that the publisher had been planning on releasing as many as 60 historical Playmobil figures, but hadn’t thought of a single woman worth being among them, although the uproar finally led to some additional and unforeseen women characters to its collection.
Playmobil y Planeta de Agostini oyen las críticas e incluirán mujeres en su colección sobre personajes históricos https://t.co/WkV8sYupag
— Hay Mujeres (@Hay_Mujeres) 9 septembre 2016
*Playmobil and Planeta de Agostini hear the critics and include women in their collection on historical figures.
This wasn’t the first attempt at “erasing women from History”, as the blog Mujeres Conciencia put it, and it probably wasn’t even a deliberate move to do so.
The publisher had made it clear its reasons were merely commercial. I certainly could take their words for it as it rang a bell to a previous controversy where Disney had made the decision not to market any Rey merchandise within its Star Wars range before later giving up to the public outcry and launching Rey toys.
I could have just read about this story and let it slip from my mind, just like all the other news I was taking in on a daily basis. For some reason though, it kept on pervading my thoughts long after the controversy was over.
And it made me think. There were so many women I knew of who were as worthy as any man to be recognized for their contribution to History. And many more I didn’t know of.
It wasn’t just about a toys’ collection, nor about a matter of sheer ego. I, as a woman, didn’t feel that women had to be the main focus of all history books or that the world should revolve entirely around them and their achievements.
I just felt the need for some balance in the narrative, for brilliant and inspiring women to step out of the shadow they had been confined to.
Countless women have been and still are hero soldiers on the battlefield, powerful politicians, intellectual figures or engaged activists. There are inspirational women to look up to coming from any background, who might have left their name on History or not at all.
The series of portraits to be published on this blog aim at doing these great women figures justice and show that women, from past and present, do belong in History.
“No quiero que mis hijos aprendan la Historia sin mujeres” Adrian Cordellat : Article available here