Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer…Psyke

Yesterday the Internet went (rightfully) crazy because Barbie released a book (and we are just noticing now?) called Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer. Unfortunately, there isn’t one thing about it that could possibly go over well with the female tech community, or the entire tech community, really.


image courtesy of Mattel

In the book, Barbie is creating a game. Some have taken umbrage with the fact that it is the stereotypical sort of game with cute fluffy animals that typifies what society thinks girls are into. This didn’t bother me so much. While I may be the Halo master in my house, my daughter certainly likes the cute fluffy animal games, so whatever. People also nitpicked about the heart shaped flash drive but I have something similar, so stop judging.

It was the part of the book where Barbie giggles and explains that she is only designing the game and she needs the boys to come in and actually do the work. I could go on about the stupidity of the information presented, or the offensive idea that girls only care about design, music collections, and pillow fights, but plenty of others have dissected this book online.

The real issue is that Barbie had an opportunity here. Mattel has extraordinary resources, both financial and collaborative, and could have partnered with a myriad of women in tech who know what they are talking about to produce a book that would have sold out. It would have been a best seller. It could have made a huge impact. It could have been as socially responsible and empowering as Barbie says they are. It was the perfect chance to create  a catalyst between computer engineering and Barbie fans, showing that technology and femininity are not mutually exclusive. And they failed. They failed at something that should have been obvious and achievable.

Today, Barbie issued this apology:

The Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer book was published in 2010. Since that time we have reworked our Barbie books. The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the Brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for. 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 girls imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.

 In my opinion, PR Barbie and Product Design Barbie should be ashamed. 2010 is NOT THAT LONG AGO. While it’s doubtful they will pull the book, the Internet ( as usual) is fixing it or remixing it.

Whether or not Barbie is able to repair the damage they have done to public trust, there are other options for girls to express their interest in programming like through the workbooks from Hello Ruby, playing with Robot Girl Lottie, and participating in The Hour of Code.

There are so many programs, toys, experiences, and mentors available. My hope is that Barbie will take this situation and do what women actually do when they are faced with a challenge. Instead of handing it off to the boys, they will apologize, learn from their mistake, and then rise to evolve and adapt.

11 Things Only Parents of Girls Will Understand

Girl, and Perfectly Dirty. Photo credit: Ariane Coffin.

Girl, and Perfectly Dirty. Photo credit: Ariane Coffin.

One GeekMom shared with me this wonderful article in the Huffington Post, 11 Things Only Parents of Boys Will Understand.

First of all, let me say I think the title is great! If the author had titled it “11 Things Parents of Boys Will Understand,” then that might have left some ambiguity that parents of girls could potentially understand some of these points. That extra “only” really drives the point home, parents of girls can not, could never understand what it’s like for their child to love Star Wars or ruin her clothes. Bravo, bravo. {Slow clap} Well done.

Inspired by that stroke of genius, I decided that, as a mother of two girls, I should write a list of all the fantastic things about stereotyping genders raising girls! Without further ado, let’s get fallacied.

1. Barbie is akin to a religion. It’s a universal truth, all girls love Barbie! And, of course, only parents of girls could possibly understand this because 100% of boys hate dolls. I know this is true because I’ve seen a boy in a park once and he didn’t like dolls, ergo all boys hate dolls. Extrapolating data is awesome!

2. Girls give the shittiest hugs. Girls always have a hidden agenda. If your daughter gives you an unsolicited hug, question it. Post haste! She either did something wrong or she wants something from you, you just need to figured out which.

3. Girls don’t fart. Which also leads to another excellent point—girls are not funny.

4. Girls always listen. It’s a fabulous blessing to have girls because they are fantastic listeners. Girls have evolved great listening skills, first of all because they talk so much, and also to better serve their husbands. It’s been proven in that one study by that one person, you know, the study. There’s been a study so it’s totally true. I don’t feel the need to include any link to it, because it’s so true it might as well be called an axiom.

Bonus: Great listening leads to better obedience skills, training your new girl should be a breeze.

5. Everything will be covered in glitter. Seriously. Everything. All girls things come covered in glitter. When girls sweat, it is infused with glitter. Glitter will be on all your furniture, on your face, on every item of clothing that enters your house, and your family will leave a trail of glitter wherever you go. On the other hand, it is illegal for boys to use glitter in any respectable preschool so parents of boys couldn’t possibly understand this.

6. All pink, all the time. Girls see pink and their ovaries cry out “I must have it!” in unison. No other color exists. Period.

7. Girls are so clean, you could practically eat off their toilet seats. Because they lack a penis with which to miss aim, girls have impeccable bathrooms. Little girls take great time and effort to perfectly roll up appropriately-sized pads of toilet paper with which to wipe their bottoms, and they will wipe with equal care. You know what you will never find in your daughters’ bathrooms? An un-flushed toilet with giant mounds of toilet paper in it, poop streaks on the toilet seat, and more dirty mounds of toilet paper… On. The. Freaking. Floor.

8. Girls are poised. Thank goodness parents of girls don’t have to worry about things like rough-housing, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue about how to handle that! Girls say “yes, please” and “no, thank you,” unlike boys who will belch in your face while ripping the flesh off their fresh-killed dinner with their teeth. Did you know boys climb rocks and play in *gags a little* mud? Oh my goodness precious.

9. My Little Pony or Strawberry Shortcake. It will be one or the other. There is absolutely not a frozen snowball’s chance in hell that a girl would not like either of those. There’s also no chance that she would like both, that’s crazy-pants. Choose now, and choose wisely, because there will be a quiz. Be wary of self-proclaimed “bronies,” they are boys who like My Little Pony and will surely grow up to become sexual predators who roofies girls at high school parties.

10. There’s nothing worse than nudity. You know what my girls hate? Being naked. They despise the liberating feeling of running around bare-bottom in the backyard. It’s a huge problem, really, because shopping for girls is so complicated, what with the corsets and all those different types of bustles!

Thank goodness girls keep their clothes immaculate with all that poised sitting around, that way I don’t have to shop for their various accoutrements so often. How outrageous this world would be if little girls came home with grass stains on their knees, or holes in their clothes! Not at the price I’m paying for that beautiful pink lace dress, little girl! Now go back inside to your lady-like hobbies, where you belong.

11. Girls are back-stabbing bitches. Oh my goodness, you guys, I have to break character here. I can’t even come up with worse bullshit than this author’s come up with herself for number 11 “Boys love unconditionally.”

I can’t build up on it, it’s top level crap. She writes, I kid you not, the following: “When your little girl stomps her foot and tells you to leave her alone, your son simply loves you. When your tween daughter is sullen and sulky and hates you, your son simply loves you. When you teenage daughter gives you the silent treatment, your son simply loves you.” Yes, because if there’s anything parents of boys have told me it’s that their kids never ask them to leave them alone! And I was all like “whoa, I had no idea only girls could be brats!”

It’s so true, you guys.

If you’re all as fed up with these stereotypes as I am, here are 11 things only parents of real children will understand.

1. Anything your children love will be akin to religion.

2. Being grateful for the privileges your child will have as a first-world citizen. 

3. Children give the best hugs.

4. Farts are funny. If you’re three years old.

5. Being a parent is dirty work.

6. Anything can, and will, become a toy.

7. Children are physical.

8. Human beings (of any age) don’t listen.

9. Marvel versus DC. Luckily you never have to pick.

10. Every child is unique.

11. Children love unconditionally.