I know I've complained before about how toy manufacturers seem determined to reinforce gender stereotypes. I discovered something today when shopping for Easter presents that floored me, though.
Y'know how we keep asking for various female figures, even Leia and Padme, and the answer is always "boys don't want girl figures"? Try looking for a male companion for Barbie. At TRU, Target, and Wal-Mart, I only could find one male Barbie figure, from some DVD movie. It didn't look like Ken, nor did it use that name anywhere. Honestly, it looked like this particular doll wouldn't even be interested in Barbie. (Not saying there's anything wrong with that, but, really, the guy was not manly in the least. If not for his bare chest, I would've thought he was a girl.) Okay, I'm not counting the few dudes in the $30 collector dolls, but for a toddler? No.
You can buy every single Disney princess (aside from Kida, of course, whom they don't like to admit exists, because she could singlehandedly whoop every other Disney character all by herself). You can even buy a few supporting characters, as long as they're girls (I found her a Charlotte LeBouf doll, since she loves the character). But start looking for the dudes--no Prince Charming, no other Prince Charming, heck, not even the stinkin' Beast.
Then again, you simply can't get a female character in any current Batman line, despite the importance of characters like Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, or Batgirl. (And wouldn't Black Canary be perfect packed with Music Meister?)
How, really, how, can every major toy manufacturer be so blind to the fact that kids up to a certain age play with whatever they darn well please, stereotypes be damned, and it's simply not fun to have, say, a bunch of Barbies without any dudes to hang out with them? I have to admit, Hasbro is better than Mattel on this; at least we get Padmes and Baronesses and even Arcees. The only cross-gender toys I could find from Mattel were the few women in the DC lines geared toward grownups.
If you care, I wound up getting her two Rise of Cobra Joes on clearance, since most women I know tell me they always thought Ken was a douchebag or a wuss and had their Barbies go out on dates with their brother's Joes anyway. Too bad there's no way to give her a Catwoman (her favorite Batman character) to go along with her new Gorilla Grodd (her second favorite).