Monday, July 16, 2012

On the subject of Sexist/Racist Barbie

The other day I was in one of the many retail stores (Target, Wal-mart, Hastings, Toys R Us) with my girlfriend, her cousin, and best friend. Lately there has been a 'doll hunt' going on to find affordable dolls that closely match RP characters, my guess is that they are going for Barbie dolls because the Japanese Ball Joint Dolls are very much out of any one's price range.

Anyway, I've listened to my girlfriend's best friend whine and rant about how they don't make enough African American dolls. I personally don't think they make enough Asian dolls but I'm not going to complain about it in the store because A) I never have any money anyway and if I did, buying a doll wouldn't be my first priority. And B) Mattel is making African American dolls and there have been a lot more on the shelves even in the last few years but she's buying them in stores in Northern Idaho.

Let me give you a short cultural dynamics lesson, where I grew up, I went to school with Hispanics, Asians, Blacks, and almost everything in between. Where she grew up, you were lucky to see a Black person or anyone who isn't White walking down the damned street. And the reason: there are still pockets of White Supremacy groups up in the Northwest. Hell, there's a member of the KKK (proudly and publicly announced) running for Mayor in a town not 2 hours from where I live. Do you really think the managers of said retail stores are going to order a bunch of black barbie dolls? No, they will order a few to fulfill the minute need or a request but they are going to do what is good for their store and supply the demanded needed. Oh look, that thing they teach in economics classes 'Supply and Demand'. 

As most people, who actually care, know, there is a debate about the makers of Barbie making Barbie unrealistic (really that's another blog all on its own which I may or may not write). Well I was reminded of another 'problem' with Barbie and reminded so by my own girlfriend. I have heard her best friend bitch about this too a time or two and that is that the makers of Barbie are apparently also sexist. What surprised me the most was that my girlfriend brought this package (the one on the right) over to me to look at (we didn't buy it). I looked and said "What?" to which she said, "Nothing, I just thought it was interesting," and she put it back on the shelf. If I had not just heard her and her best friend talking about how sexist the clothes were a few days prior, I would have thought nothing of it. And my guess as to what she thought was so interesting was, in fact, confirmed when I went on a hunt to find other 'I can be' career clothing for Barbie dolls. The above shown are Fire Woman and Police Woman outfits. I found Astronaut, Scuba diver, Musician, Karate, and Olympic outfits which I pointed out to her to prove that the outfits weren't just a sneaky backdoor kind of kinky thing (you know like stripper outfits). Yes, these outfits are going to be very effeminate, they are made and tailored to a FEMALE barbie. Not only that but they are made to look pretty. Whether or not they were originally designed to offend or not is really a moot point because they were designed, manufactured, placed on shelves, and are being purchased. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Really it's that simple. 

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