Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 19 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/8/09

The Burden of Not Being Wrong, Again: Barbie's Perv Creator

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   3 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message kellie bean
Become a Fan

So, I read today that the designer of Mattel’s Barbie doll was obsessed with sex. Seriously? We need a book-length study to tell us that?


We in the land of feminist academics have been teaching the pernicious sexual politics of Barbie for years. The breasts that defy gravity, the hair, the long, long legs and of course the cruel, nipped in waist. Oh, don’t forget the tiny clothes, the f*ck-me pumps, not to mention the well-equipped kitchens in every Barbie Dream House. The message of Barbie seems unambiguous to me.


Still, many students (and not a few colleagues) consistently resist seeing Barbie as a miniature sex toy, claiming instead that the doll was a good role model for little girls. (One could, after all, purchase a Barbie doll dressed as a doctor.) Or claiming, equally untenably, that toys had no impact on their ideas about gender roles or their own sexuality.


These students, mostly women, want to rescue Barbie, to protect their own childhoods from academic interrogations of pop culture and what those interrogations might reveal. That’s understandable. Yet, many of these same students sit in my class pouring out of tank tops, squeezed into low-rise jeans, or tugging on mini-skirts so short they are nearly impossible to sit down in. That is, dressed like Barbie.


It’s an experience I regularly have as a feminist critic of popular culture: a media event, book or news story demonstrates that I’m not wrong, my ideology is not based in “over analyzing,” “hyper sensitivity,” or “reading too much into things” (the three most common criticisms feminists tend to encounter). It’s disappointing, frankly, to stumble so often upon evidence of society’s sexism and to keep having to explain that it’s there. Disappointing that Barbie was so obviously a sexed-up, misogynist, bad idea for little girls and to realize how thoroughly our culture embraced the toy anyway.


So, here we are again. Feminists were right: no one but a sex-obsessed man with a perverse idea of female anatomy would create a female toy like Barbie. And, as is too too often the case for feminists, being right isn’t something to celebrate.




Rate It | View Ratings

Kellie Bean Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Kellie Bean has been a Professor of English at Marshall University, an Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, and most recently, Provost of a small New England College. Author of "Post-Backlash Feminism: Women and the Media Since Reagan/Bush" (McFarland (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Year of the Butt: Olympic (Un)Coverage

Sarah Palin: Talk Talk Talkin' Revolution

New Media Feminist Debate: Pornography

Women's Health in Quotes

ESPN's Storm: Kornheiser's Tempest in a Tea Pot

Let 2010 be The Year We Loved our Bodies

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend