And when it comes to toys, I do think there is a crazy level of gender stereotyping going on. It seems like every Little Tykes toy comes in two versions: regular and "girl."
I escape this mostly by choosing toys from smaller online stores and taking a mental inventory of what we have, I'd say 90% of Lucy's toys are gender neutral. She does have a Waldorf baby doll (but even that is theoretically designed to be appealing to both sexes) and one of her kitchen accessories is a pink and purple tea set. (Some might say the kitchen overall is a "girl" toy but I say hogwash. It is just as big a hit with our boy visitors although I will admit they tend to be a bit noisier when they stir things). But her wooden blocks, Montessori materials, puzzles, Melissa and Doug wooden barn and her Duplos are probably going to be used just as much by Jonah in a few years as they currently are with Lucy and I really like that. So you might think I'd be equally aghast at the idea of Lego friends.
But no, I completely understand why they are doing this and I will admit I'm a bit perplexed by the extreme reaction.
First of all, anything is better than Bratz (aka prostitute dolls). Why we are even having petitions over Legos while those things are still available in stores is mind-boggling.
Also, this isn't the first time Lego has had girly-colored sets. I had a few when I was younger. Unlike the friends collection, the people where the same rectangular shape as the original, but my sets were a beach scene and a horse stable and were designed for more dramatic play while the original sets were more about building items - cars, space ships, etc.
Now I don't like the general trend away from generic Lego/Duplo blocks to (often commercialized) sets with limited building options. They are doing the same thing with Duplo. It's hard to find nice sets of just Duplo blocks because most of what the stores sell is scene specific kits but that is really a different issue. And if that is the direction Lego is going, they really do need to have separate boy and girl sets because - NEWS FLASH - boys and girls play differently.
That is one of the reasons I like having the gender neutral open ended toys. Because it allows kids to use them however they want. Lucy makes chairs and tables out of her blocks. She builds houses with her Duplos and acts out scenes. When playing with her barn, she spends most of her time taking the animals out of the barn, feeding them, then tucking them back into the barn for a nap. When we have boys over to play - they build towers and knock them down, they race the animals around the room and when Craig plays Duplos with Lucy, he builds her robots. I've given them the same toys and the same opportunities for play but, young or old, it's just how things work.
Lucy has several sets of Duplo, her most recent being a Disney Princess Cinderella set. She went with my dad to Target where he let her pick out a "big sister present." I'll admit, I cringed a bit when I saw her choice as I would have gone with a more generic kit. This is the first Disney Princess toy we have in our house although Lucy only knows about Cinderella because Craig tells her the original story at bedtime (yes, with bloody feet and everything :-) But it wasn't my choice, she picked it and she loves it!
And unlike the "math is hard" barbie, Lego isn't saying that girls don't like to build or that building is a "boy" thing unless the pieces are pink, they are saying that yes, girls can like Legos and they don't have to want to build a Star Wars starfight to do it. Now, my personal preference would be to buy a big box of generic Legos and let my kids choose whether to build a house or a fighter jet but I don't think it is sexist for Lego to put out sets either.