Both Sarkeesian (who this week released a video history, at right, of 40 years of Lego's attempt to market to girls) and SPARK advocate Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker report that they've heard from young girls who've been turned off by the "princessy" marketing. On the other hand, some parents are pushing back against, er, the pushback. In an Amazon review, one mother who bought the topselling "Olivia's Tree House" for her five year-old daughter writes that "creating a ‘girl' themed product line in no way forces her into a gender role, limits the possibility of what she can achieve in life nor does it undermine her equality; rather it gives her the option to play with sets that appeal to the girly part of her personality." None of the reviews for the playset have given it fewer than the maximum five stars.


Whatever the impact of the controversy on sales, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Lego's handling of its critics is making matters worse. To complaints from girls and their advocates, the company's standard reply is that Friends was created by a "team of experts in Denmark" who "put a lot of thought" into every aspect of the line's development. "We are very aware that girls are powerful and need to be represented as such," Lego says, even as Olivia, Stephanie, Andrea, Mia, and Emma focus almost exclusively on shopping, tanning, baking, and caring for sick puppies. While Lego's PR response has not yet reached Komenesque levels of incompetence, the constant reiteration that Danish toy designers know what's best for girls borders on the tone-deaf. Judging by sales, however, that clumsiness hasn't hurt them yet.