Barbie, you suck.
Now, I’m all for girls getting into IT, a male dominated field (wha?) – as a matter of fact, I hope that my daughter will be a competent coder or at least know how computers operate on some level that seems to be lacking in today’s millennial generation (they know how to use them, kinda, but it seems do not know how they work for the most part). Barbie? She’s been making the news again lately – but not in a good way.
So, why the vitriol?
There’s been a lot of hub-bub going around the ‘Netz about this Barbie book from 2010 called “Barbie: I Can be a Computer Engineer” – the news is more about how Barbie can’t operate a computer to save her life (or her data, apparently) and has to rely upon two guys (ummmm) to finish a project that she’s working on (a video game, because you know, that’s what we computer engineers do. We just write video games all day). SPOILER ALERT, at the end she takes all the credit for herself – what a bitch. Not really an empowering story for Barbie, who has been taken to task over the years for not pulling her weight to demonstrate a positive and progressive view of the modern-day woman, but unsurprisingly, embellishing a 1950’s view that needs to die a horrible death. Not only that, but you know, being a computer “engineer” (which I don’t know anyone who actually calls themselves that) is EZ! Now, in all fairness, she’s not really a computer engineer, she just states that she could easily be one at the end of the story(!)…but I digress.
Here’s the cover – btw, the binary on the screen spells (presumably, some characters were blocked – yeah, I’m a geek) “Barbie Barbie” – too bad, that’s pretty boring.
Barbie wants to make a game, but golly gee, OMG ROFL, she can’t because she’s a girl. She’s only got ideas! I’ll skip some pages, but by gosh, most of them have some sort of stupid crap on it, so here we go:
Uh-oh, Barbie’s got a virus! She’s probably not using Linux as implied by the cover – – I mean, you’d have to be unspeakably inept to get your CentOS box infected.
Skipper: “OMG, BARBIE I TOLD YOU NOT TO LOG IN AS ROOT!”
STEP 1. Insert your flash drive into your infected computer. Make sure it’s the one with all your important data on it.
STEP 2. Insert your infected flash drive into all the computers in the surrounding area you can locate. Wow, there’s a euphemism if I ever heard one…
Basically what happens next is Barbie infects Skipper’s computer too and can’t fix it.
Now, she does ask about viruses in class (female professor/teacher, I’m sure that was a mistake on the author’s part – probably assumed all teachers were female, right?). Of course, the other mistake here is the professor assuming that a network funded by the government has effective security software installed on it (ever worked in a library?).
Too proud to find a couple female classmates that might know their variables from their constants, Barbie reluctantly instead opts to enlist the help of a couple hot dudes to fix Skipper’s computer.
Steven thinks to himself “Dammit, this laptop is stupidly pink.”
So, Steven fixed Skipper’s laptop, and Barbie high fives him – not even an offer for a 6-pack of beer or a gas card. “Hahaha – I totally used you.”
…aaaaand Barbie takes credit for fixing Skipper’s computer.
…and not satisfied with that, she also takes complete credit for the video game she “designed.”
I’ve known people like this.
Lessons learned here:
- Being a computer engineer is easy. All they do is write video games.
- Can’t figure something out? Use your hot friends to fix your problems.
- Take credit for everything, reap the rewards.
Waaaaaait a second. This story might exactly be how some of my managers over the years (men and women alike) got to where they are today. Maybe it’s non-fiction after all?
Anyway…so, the obvious bit here is that Barbie looks like an big dumb chump in this book – not really a role model I want my children looking up to in any way. Simply put, this tripe is book-burning material. Barbie should just stop trying.
I have to say, I am a little annoyed as an IT professional on one level – this just simply minimizes a difficult and frustrating profession that requires years of experience, patience, and education to succeed. I’m offended on larger level that we as a society can’t have strong images of professional women in technical/scientific positions without making it look like a half-baked “Legally Blonde” plot – even after all these years.
What do you think?
Page images from [Feminist Hacker Barbie]