Despite all this planning, Ken still came to represent things his parent company never intended, as icons tend to do. The story of Ken's crotch is not merely one of PR, manufacturing, and/or branding -- it's about which realities our culture deems acceptable, and which that it seeks to keep hidden. This goes not just for the doll, but for the man he was named after, Ken Handler, who died in 1994 with major parts of his life airbrushed out of public view. [...]
"He pointed out the primary play mode for the Barbie and Ken dolls was dressing and undressing them," wrote Schneider. "He questioned whether children would understand that Ken was a boyfriend or comprehend what a boyfriend really was. Would they see Ken as their fathers, brothers, or the boy next door? And if so, was it healthy to see him undressed? And when he was naked, why did he or didn't he look like Daddy or a brother?"
Ken was not merely dickless by default; the bulge was the result of careful strategizing to which his inventors, businessmen, a psychologist, and Japanese manufacturers all contributed.