The story in a book called Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer caused a lot of worldwide fuss recently, and it was so negatively received that Mattel had to withdraw it from sale and make some public apologies on the way as well. The toy giant apologized for making the doll incapable of fixing a PC without two guy’s help.
Furthermore Mattel had to pull from sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and RandomHouse Kids the four-year-old book that portrays the beloved toy as dependent on the help of men to develop software.
“The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for,”
responded a Mattel spokesman.
“We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl’s imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.”
The tale, written for kids ages three to seven, follows Barbie and her sister, Skipper, through the trials and tribulations of downloading a computer virus, which temporarily displaces Skipper’s homework and Barbie’s game designs.
In a nutshell this book dreams up a computer engineering version of Barbie who seems better at taking praise for other people’s work than doing any actual coding. It prompted some serious outrage on the net this week because Barbie the computer engineer says things like “I’m only creating the design ideas” and “I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a game.” She also infects her sister’s computer, leans on these two guy friends to fix the problem, and then takes credit for their work.
The book was published in 2010 without incident, but caught the eye of the Twittersphere this week thanks to a blog post by Pamela Ribon, titled Barbie fucks it up again:
“It’s a perfect example of the way women and girls are perceived to ‘understand’ the tech world, and how frustrating it can be when nobody believes this is how we’re treated.”
Ribon wrote that she and fellow blogger Helen Jane
“knew we had to share this with you, because if we didn’t, we’d be saying it was okay.”