Paul Feig can make all the gender-swapped reboots he wants, but it seems that toy marketing departments will always let women and girls down. According to The Independent, none of the new Ghostbusters merchandise features any girls or women on the packaging. A photo of a proton pack taken by author Chuck Wendig at Target shows a boy on the Ghostbusters toy, no girls, and even the four female leads of the the movie — the damn Ghostbusters themselves — are conspicuously absent. Romper has reached out to Mattel for comment, and will update if we hear back.
I also had occasion to check out the Ghostbusters merch this past weekend and can confirm that there are no actual Ghostbusters on the packages; in fact, I was initially unclear on whether or not the toys were even tied to the new movie. Also of note is the fact that they were displayed in the boys' section. For those who thought that stores had eliminated that nonsense months ago — haha, sorry, no. While the cardboard backing on the toy shelving has been removed (no more "pink" section versus "blue" section), the toys are still separated as they've always been. Dolls, hair styling kits, and a line of toys devoted to shopping on the left (most packaged in pink or purple); action figures, cars, Lego, and toy weapons to the right.
When perusing the technically-not-just-boys section, be sure to note how there's no Black Widow merchandise mixed in with the Marvel toys. Or how hard it is to find anything featuring Rey, the main character of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Or head over to the boys' clothing section, where you'll find eight Teen Titans Go! shirts, all of which are missing Raven and Starfire, who make up 40 percent of the team. And they start young, too; I remember buying my son Yo Gabba Gabba! underwear when he was 2, and again, the two female characters were missing. It seems like marketing departments are on a mission to keep boys from seeing any female entity that isn't their own mother.
And that's where it all starts. When boys are taught from the time they can fix their eyes on a screen that girls and women are "other," is it any surprise when they grow up to treat women that way? Is it any wonder that man-babies all over Twitter have been up in arms since the day the Ghostbusters reboot was announced, horrified that women are trying to take something that belongs to them? The truth is, women don't want to take away "their" Ghostbusters, because it was never theirs to begin with. Women love the old Ghostbusters, too! But after being pushed to the side and told that they could only pay with Janine for the last 30 years, many women wouldn't mind having one that they're allowed to watch.
And, to be clear, I'm not claiming the reboot as a girls-only movie. I want men and boys to watch it and enjoy it. I want to buy the toys for my son. But when the toys are just another example of the outdated notion that men and women or girls and boys can't share the same interests or even the same spaces, that's a problem. A little boy isn't going to be turned off by a proton pack with a picture of a woman on the box! He wouldn't care if the package featured all four women Ghostbusters, along with a little girl modeling the toy, all wrapped up in a pink bow. Boys are not born with inherent disdain for girls and women. That's something they're taught — early, and from every angle, and it needs to stop.