In the case of these girl toys, the implications of girly inferiority are extremely obvious because they build it into the specs available. The equality of the toys isn't the only thing that makes this pink/any color but pink gender dichotomy in toys troubling.
Most of the arguing at pharyngula seemed to revolve around if women and girls really do like pink, and what is wrong with pink if they do? This kind of discussion misses the point completely. What is being enforced is a gender dichotomy, an artificial illusion of difference based on gender alone. We are all obviously different in our color preferences, and it should be a small detail in the way that we live, but it is a very popular marketing tool. Sociological images has a running post of things that are gendered for no reason (clear tape, tissues, bug spray, etc). It is a tiny and constant bit of background noise that says that men and women are so very different that we not only have completely different tastes and interests, but that these tastes and interests are actually directly opposed to each other. This illusion of difference is something that keeps people from genuine interaction with each other, genuine discovery of themselves as a unique person. It puts us into positions where gender seems like a very non messy 2 option kind of affair, when in reality there are all kinds of spaces between sexes and genders. This false dichotomy makes toy shopping an odd affair because you can't look for human toys; there only girls toys and boys toys for boys and girls who are expected to fit within a narrow set of interests. These interests seem to be assigned to them by the products themselves, and seem to make boys the default audience for interests. That whole "woman as the Other" thing really rings true, boys get to imagine themselves being more when culture encourages them to choose from a wider variety of fantasies to play with. Buying the non prescribed sort of products is potentially embarrassing to many people, especially when you are shopping for children. It is gender prescription on a microscopic scale, but it happens so often that it can have the desired effect. This stuff sinks in during points in time when children are developing a sense of self and a sense of what they can do in the world. This kind of thing really does matter in that it is a part of a problem that is everywhere. The crap heaped on the color pink for being 'girly' or 'gay' persists into the world of adults as well, something that can't really be said for the colors prescribed for boys to enjoy.
Most people seem to be able to agree that blue has nothing to do with traditional boydom, and pink has nothing to do with any kind of inherent property of femaleness (in fact, the color prescriptions used to be reversed). A lot seem to think that girls clamouring for pink whatnots is proof of the okayness of this, but its not. Bunches of girls loving pink doesn't happen outside the context of culture, and the excitement over pink stuff just goes to show that this sort of programming actually works and changes people on a deep level (same for lack of pink excitement for boys). A huge well funded machine shouts "YOU LIKE PINK" at girls and women, and they listen and internalize complete nonsense about pink having some inherent connection to their girly bits. Boys absorb the message too, and figure out that liking pink should be a source of shame. Being not feminine is the real way that toys (and behaviors) are recognized as masculine. Violent struggle against natural inclinations in the name of fitting into the gender dichotomy seems to be the cause of idiotic macho bullshit the vast majority of the time. Pink is such a small part of this, but it sure makes for a good example of how gender myths work in the world. The idea that men and women naturally fall into traditional definitions of feminine and masculine seems really unlikely, considering all that cross cultural comparisons have to offer to us. The people in our world are an inherently diverse bunch of folks who should be able to just freaking be, not worry about if they are going to get beat up or killed for not fitting into some weird dichotomy that has been thrust upon them. Hatred of gays, transgendered, and even slightly queer folks seems to stem from the deviance from the strict gender dichotomy.
The only real argument for this being an acceptable way to exist comes from folks who think that women and men are 'different, but complimentary'. You know, if the she-makes-the-babies-and-submits/he-works-and-dominates-her kind of way. How a relationship like that is "complimentary" to anyone is a mystery that isn't really explained in any real way. Mormons eat that shit up, and thats why their new girlie booklets are pink! Check it out:
In addition, the Young Women medallion has been redesigned and now includes age group historical symbols for Beehives, Mia Maids and Laurels, and has a ruby. "I want every young woman to realize that she is more precious than rubies," said Sister Dalton.
The booklets are pink. "We are excited about the color of pink, because we think these young women are pink. They resonate to the softness and the femininity of that color. We want them to understand that they are soft, they are unique, they are feminine and that they don't have to be like the boys."
*pokes self* I guess I am reasonably soft, I am not sure what that has to do with anything, but uh, ok. OH, they must mean "weak". Assholes. I bet I know which part of me is "more precious than rubies", too.
Mormons are some of the woman hatingist groups of people around, and they are all about this shit. Women aren't encouraged to go on missions, and if they do, they can't stay as long as their dude counterparts. They are supposed to get married. And be pretty. Even if women commit the ultimate sin in the mormon church, they aren't taken seriously. Their sub human status of "difference" that "compliments" real people like men means that even when they fuck up they don't really understand what they are doing. Don't believe me? Check out what Brigham Young had to say about the fate of women who commit the same sin as the dudes:
"I doubt whether it can be found, from the revelations that are given and the facts as they exist, that there is a female in all the regions of hell." The next year he was even more emphatic, "Woman must atone for sins committed by the volition of her own choice, but she will never become an angel to the devil, and sin so far as to place herself beyond the reach of mercy." In the same discourse he explained his reasoning, "She is not accountable for the sins that are in the world. God requires obedience from man, he is lord of creation, and at his hands the sins of the world will be required."
We are too stupid to even sin right. That is some real fierce hatred right there.
The connection between these two things might not be totally apparent, but it is there. In order to treat a group of people like total shit in society a justification needs to be made about why they aren't equal to the dominant group. Difference in fundamental aspects of character are an absolute requirement for justification of oppression. Every oppressed group has been declared too different to be treated equally by way of god or science depending on the period of time, it has always been a reason why it was acceptable to kill or enslave or hurt others. So much effort has been put into attempting to prove this difference in order to justify oppressive social orders, with little in the way of convincing proof that women/black people/gays/jews/whoever aren't good enough to be a full member of society. "Different, but complimentary" sounds hollow to me for that reason, there isn't any real reason to believe that people function that way, and buying into that idea makes it rather easy to oppress women and GLBT people for straying from this order. People who jump to the conclusion of difference in the absence of real convincing proof make me extremely nervous. It seems to me that the only ethical assumption to make is of the opposite sort; where we assume that fundamental differences do not exist until they are backed up with proof. It would mean little things like rejecting gendering of everything in our lives and discovering what we like and dislike for ourselves, really talking with other people and encouraging them to do the same. It would mean supporting people who make choices outside of the gender dichotomy in order to make a culture where things like pink and blue are equally valid choices for everyone to make. It means not buying things that force you to choose between two cartoonish stereotypes. A culture where we recognize our differences as individual people rather than members of some weird gender borg sounds like heaven to me, and it starts with how we interact with each other. It's an easy thing to do. It isn't the kind of idea that moves product, so it is going to take effort to spread around. It's worth it.