An apparently educational children’s book has a sexist twist. Protests from all around the globe have made toy maker Mattel, the company behind the book, apologize publicly.
Barbie: I can Be A Computer Engineer was published back in 2010 but started to receive a lot of attention after Pamela Ribon posted a tweet about it. As harmless as the title may sound, instead of using the iconic symbol that Barbie has become over the years, to make little girls actually want to be a computer engineer, the book is filled with sexist remarks.
The story starts with two characters, Barbie and her little sister, Skipper. While working on her computer, Barbie decides to design a video game to show kids how computer work. A marvelous idea, some may say. Of course, it would have been a great idea if Barbie didn’t end up trashing both her and her younger sister’s laptops with a virus from her USB drive. A lot of data on both the laptops and the USB drive was lost in the process.
What’s even more ironic is that the USB is actually a heart-shaped USB drive which she wears on a necklace around her neck to not forget to back up her data. However, the book starts being sexist when Barbie, instead of using her own head to fix the problem she caused, she seeks the help of two of her male friends – Brian and Steve.
As Brian and Steve do all the hard work, Barbie is the one who’s congratulated at the end of the story for saving the laptops and retrieving the missing data.
As people have started giving their not-so-good opinions about the book’s content, Mattel apologized via a Facebook post:
“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.”
Pamela Ribon, the face behind the post that triggered the mass protest is a novelist, author of bestseller “Why Girls are Weird”. She found the book while at a friend’s house and immediately thought that the word about its sexist remarks should be spread as much as possible. Her attempt of making the world a better place for women in the tech industry seems to have succeeded.
Mattel has also announced that they will recall the remaining books.
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