re: barbie the computer engineer, and media hacktivism

Mattel came out with a terrible Barbie book touting to promote Barbie as a computer engineer. However, Barbie doesn’t seem able to get anything done, instead asking boys to do the “real programming” for her.

We’re also talking about hacktivism and hacking–there’s an interesting response website where you can go into the pages of the book and rewrite the Barbie story to be more feminist. The website says “Barbie’s new book tells girls they need boys to code for them. Help Barbie be the competent, independent, bad-ass engineer that she wants to be” and invites users to edit the pages of the book.

The problem, of course, is that as well-intentioned as this is, it’s still open to the users to use–which means people are going to troll it. Check out the responses.





The website’s also been taken over and flooded with inexplicable images of Richard Stallman.

This entire situation seems representative of how the online community treats women. Even if objectively we support gender equality, there’s a male majority that subscribes very much to the culture of trolling for entertainment value–at the cost of fostering an inclusive and safe space for women. The masses have taken the issues of gender equality in tech and gendered toys for children and turned it into a semisensical trolling/countertrolling game. Does that diminish the discussion around these issues?


One thought on “re: barbie the computer engineer, and media hacktivism

  1. When it came to career goals, Barbie was supposed to be breaking through plastic ceilings for this generation of girls but this sexist Barbie book is a throwback to an earlier time. To those of us who were the first generation of Barbie buddies, options presented to a real girl in the 1960s were less than thrilling. As a baby boomer girl we were told we were told that on one hand we were a special generation with wide open options. On the other, the choices were predictably limited. To assist in our journey was a board game called What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls which debuted in 1966 offering career guidance in becoming a stewardess, a model, a nurse or a teacher. For a peek at the retro career options


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s