Well, this is something that definitely made my day!
Apparently, there is a children’s book called I Can Be an Actress/I Can Be a Computer Engineer (Barbie), which (I guess) was supposed to empower young girls and show them they could excel at various professions. Alas, it fails miserably!
The book consists of two separate stories – one about Barbie being a great actress with little or no effort; and the other one – about Barbie as a bad, bad computer engineer. What happens is that computer engineer Barbie designs a game, but needs her male colleagues’ help to actually create it. (This would make her a game designer, not a computer engineer, but who cares?) Further more, she infects her own and her sister’s computers with a virus, that have to be cleaned by men, since she has no idea how to handle antivirus programs, of course. In the end, Barbie takes credit for both the game and fixing computers and her sister is proud of her.
So basically, young girls are told that:
- they can’t do important stuff without men’s help
- they should let guys do technical stuff, like programming and fixing computers
- it’s OK to take credit for someone else’s work.
To get the idea how it all looks:
(The screenshots are taken from Feminist Hacker Barbie site)
In fact, the book in question exists for couple of years now, but for some reason, the Internet users found out about it this week and got really upset, which led to a very funny response! The idea was to rewrite the whole story and help Barbie become a better computer engineer. If you want, you can help her yourself on Feminist Hacker Barbie site, and add different text to the images from the book. Here are some examples which make me laugh today :
For more of these hilarious images, check #FeministhackerBarbie on twitter.
I’ve read some comments stating that it’s wrong to take Barbie so seriously and that one can’t expect anything smart from Mattel, but I disagree. I think we should use every opportunity to fight sexism, especially in STEM fields, since women around the world are (explicitly or implicitly) still told that they are just no good for them.
Seems that this kind of clever, funny and sarcastic response to a deeply wrong message that this book has been sending (to both girls and boys!) was the right thing to do, since its Amazon page doesn’t exist anymore and there is an apology on Barbie’s facebook page. On some days I really love Internet!