Zuska posted recently about dell's inane marketing toward females (ooh, if you're a girl, you need a pink laptop with special dieting tips!). They've toned the site's sexism way down after a slew of commentary - as of this writing, they're highlighting super-light netbooks and acessories. But this reminded me of my experience with "legos for girls".
I was a huge lego fan when I was a kid. I always asked for lego stuff for presents, and over a few years I accumulated a large number of structures which ended up totally taking over my room. Each set would come with a couple of lego people, and I felt compelled to make room in my lego town for a place for every single lego person to sleep (I hadn't thought of the night shift), so I ended up with several hotels/sleeping shanties that contained nothing but beds. I often played by myself, making up long lineages and interpersonal conflicts between everyone in town. I was a little stumped by the repeat lego men, so there were a lot of twins and triplets.
The only thing I lacked was lego ladies. My lego town was a sausagefest. I'd be lucky to get one lego lady per set, and when I got the little "person only" sets, there'd be 10 men and one woman. So you can imagine my joy when I heard about special legos for girls. Finally, gender lego parity! But no, all it meant was that you could buy all pink building blocks. And you still didn't have an equal number of lego ladies.
I know there's all sorts of obnoxious gendered toys. But my lego experience was the first time I consciously thought about how these things were pushed on kids. I stopped playing with legos around then because I started writing down the characters in my head rather than building houses for them, but I may have gotten a couple more sets if I hadn't been so insulted by the marketing.