Disney's entire company benefits from the recapitulation of the gender binary: from the proliferation of Princesses to the marketing of Marvel to young boys. It shouldn't exactly be surprising (although it is entirely enraging) that the higher-ups at the company specifically told toymakers that they weren't interested in creating toys of Rey, the Star Wars franchise's newest female hero. The logic? Boys don't want action figures of girls! Yikes -- but also, go figure.
When toys for the new Star Wars films originally debuted, many were disappointed to see the lack of female representation amongst the collectibles, rather soundly concluding that surely sexism was at play in the decision to leave our girl out of various product lines. Disney and Hasbro responded with a rather limp claim, saying that Rey was "not included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance."
Now, it's come out that that claim was, more or less, a blatant lie. An anonymous insider tells the tale of why the mysterious heroine is missing from toy shelves:
“One or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise.” Allegedly, the industry insider was told “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”
It is understandable to doubt the veracity of claims made by unnamed insider sources, but this problem has already played itself out numerous times with other Disney lines: Guardians of The Galaxy's product lines didn't include Gamora and Avengers product lines didn't include Black Widow.
“Diminishing of girl characters is common in the industry,” revealed the anonymous source. “Power Rangers asked us to do it. Paw Patrol, too.”
Will Disney learn their lesson any time soon? Maybe, considering how awry their gendered plans have gone: “I’ve spoken with Disney people, and they were completely blindsided by the reaction to the new Star Wars characters,” continued the insider. “They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of. Now they’re stuck with vast amounts of Kylo Ren product that is not moving, and a tidal wave of complaints about a lack of Rey items.”
Fans' warm reaction to Rey continues to grow and influence the films, so much so that many suspect the recent delay of Episode VIII has to do with script rewrites that would feature her more prominently.
If this insider does turn out to be credible, does it even need to be said how wrong-minded Disney was in making this decision? Boys can play with girl toys, girls can play with boy toys, gender is a social construction, and Rey is pretty badass.