Burka Barbie

MSSC turned me on to this video, and I watched it over at a blog called “Doubletapper“.

I flip-flopped in my opinion several times while watching that video, so I went looking for more information.  I found it, in a Daily Mail article from November, 2009.  And I was still on the fence.  So I read all the comments at DoubleTapper, and some of the comments at Daily Mail.  Still on the fence, although I’m leaning one way over another, rapidly moving all the way to that side…

So when I first watched, I thought like the Mattel Rep thought, essentially that the point of Barbie is to represent ALL girls… There’s Airline Pilot Barbie, Vetrinarian Barbie, Lawyer Barbie, Cheerleader Barbie (maybe that’s Skipper), and even Mommy Barbie (‘course, she’s got a baby that bursts out of her belly, alien-style, so I’m not sure THAT’S a good example).  So I was thinking, “ok, this is cool – there are plenty of little girls who wear Burkas instead of Bikini’s, and this is for an auction that will benefit a world-wide children’s charity, so maybe it’s a good idea.  And the photo that I saw at the Daily Mail backed me up:

There’s Kimono Barbie, Dashiki Barbie,  and even one in a miniskirt and a halter top, although I’m not quite sure which culture that is.  Point is, this looked like it was a “Multicultural Barbie Pack”, offered by the designer, Eliana Lorena.  So in that context, maybe I’m ok with it.

But as I listened to the woman on the video, and read the comments under the Daily Mail article, my mind started to change.  First, this is only a 500-item, Limited-Edition Issue of the doll.  Which means that it is unlikely to end up in any hands other than those placing it into the glass display case.  Second – and this wasn’t mentioned, to my knowledge in either place – Barbie is unlikely to be found in any “fundamentalist Islam” household.  As far as I know, the really hardcore Islamist doesn’t look very fondly on the West, and resents Western Influence.  You can’t get more “Western” than Barbie.

Finally, and this is the big one, I see a difference between wearing a Burka for modesty’s sake, and wearing a full-coverage, “hide you from the world” Burka.  I can’t help but agree with both the woman in the video and the commenters when they say that the Burka which has the screen mask for viewing through is nothing but oppression and an extension of Sharia Law, which is shaming to women, blaming them for their own rapes, for inciting men to attack them, saying that it was the woman’s fault.

Is it a huge deal?  No.  It’s ‘just a barbie doll’ that’s going to end up in some collector’s case, and, as this story ran in November of 2009, it’s obvious that it’s done and over with, and hasn’t done any harm.

But on the other hand, this is just one more step toward normalizing the fundamentalist, extreme side of Islam.  That side of it that is insidiously invading all over the world, and the side that oppresses women in the most horrific ways.

So because of that, I have to say, “shame on Mattel”.  Had Barbie been offered in a traditional, modest but open-faced burka, I might have thought differently, but the fact that the “mask” burka was included, just smacks of political correctness to me.

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12 Responses to Burka Barbie

  1. SKL says:

    Where women normally dress that way to go out in public, it’s probably comfortable, in the same sense that I feel comfortable wearing simple jeans and a T-shirt: nobody is looking at me. Honestly, if I lived in a place where that was the norm, I would probably be very happy to wear a burqa in public. So I don’t want to assume it’s oppressive. Sure, there will always be some women who think “this was something sexist assholes thought up just to harm women.” Here in the USA, there are women who think we needn’t wear clothes at all, among other things. Maybe for someone like Cher, ordinary jeans are oppressive, while for me, they are liberating. I note that I haven’t heard any woman who was raised in that kind of culture complain (even anonymously) about wearing the burqa. The complaints I hear are always from foreigners visiting those places.

    As for Barbie – I’m not really a fan, never have been. And if this is a rare collectors’ edition, I agree that the point is pretty much moot. However, based on the people I know from “over there,” while they have all kinds of ideas about Western morals, Western products are popular. It’s funny, because even where everyone has brown skin, the little girls want white-skinned dolls and such. (Seems totally weird to me – I went out of my way to find an assortment of multiracial dolls for my kids, so they wouldn’t get the idea that beautiful = pale and blond.) Some friends in India are planning a visit to the US this Spring, and they wanted to bring Barbies as gifts for my kids. (I said no thanks.)

    • mssc54 says:

      ” Honestly, if I lived in a place where that was the norm, I would probably be very happy to wear a burqa in public.”

      Brainwashing! If you tie your dog to a tree all it’s life it will still wag its tail when you bring it a mere bowl of water.

      Other religions sacrificed babies or other individuals to their gods. Because that seemed the “norm” it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Was it?

      • SKL says:

        I really think we give too much importance to clothes. Can you imagine how ridiculous my winter coat looks to someone in equatorial Africa? Yet it says nothing about whether my life is happy or not.

  2. DM says:

    you nailed it, ” this is just one more step toward normalizing the fundamentalist, extreme side of Islam. That side of it that is insidiously invading all over the world, and the side that oppresses women in the most horrific ways.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one aware of those trends in the world. Unfortunately, our press and many of our government leaders are not so astute….political correctness has blinded them

  3. mssc54 says:

    So all the Barbies are the same its just the clothes that make them different?

    I think we need to start a new line. Have Barbie dressed in a thong bikini and call her INFIDEL BARBIE! 🙂

  4. Joy says:

    I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about this and thinking about it.

    Pretend. Dolls=Pretend. Dolls=Play.

    I don’t have a single problem with Barbie dolls. I had hours and hours of fun with mine as a little girl. I’d dress them up. They’d go to “work” and come home and have tea. It’s playing. It’s what kids do. They have Barbie’s doing just about everything from teaching to scuba diving and I sometimes think adults take this to the level of it being about more than play. This for most little girls would be just another outfit and in one way, it may be a good way for them to learn this is what they do in that country. Nobody may have noticed but we aren’t all the same. Maybe it’s a good thing for kids without this in their lives to learn about.

    I most likely wouldn’t have given this a thought. I think the way the world is now sometimes just gets stupid. I’ll bet no little girl complained about this. It was just the adults crying foul. Why in God’s name can’t they just let little girls/boys play? Why do we have to drag hate into anything? I’ve been in many “I hate Barbie” fisticuffs and I’m not going to get into one now but jeez, they are made for little girls to sit in their rooms and PRETEND with. Just like little boys play with guns and army tanks. Does that mean little boys are going to want to grow up and blow everything in sight up? Some maybe but most, of course not. Some people are born screwed up.

    This was an adult fight. I say let the kids play with them if they want to. Nobody said that you “had” to go buy this item. Isn’t this still a free country? It was when I went to bed last night.

    • Laura says:

      I agree with you, except… There were only 500 of these dolls made, and they were sold through, I believe, Sotheby’s, which is a big-time auction house, to raise money for a children’s charity. I doubt any of them made it into the hands of children for playing.

    • Joy says:

      Ya, that does suck.

  5. Nikki says:

    This is absolutely an adult fight, and over what? A kids toy! Not because it was harmful for a kid to play with. If you don’t like it, or you think it sends the wrong message…the solution seems quite simple. Don’t buy it!

    This seems so silly, with the problems our world faces and we’re having a in-depth discussion and argument over a Barbie doll! I loved my barbie dolls, did I grow up to want to look like one? Dress like one? No. It’s up to the parents to set good morals, and show their kids what real beauty is, not Mattel.

    Adults look for reasons to argue. I can’t stand that!

  6. Phyllis says:

    Ok, here’s a question for you. What if Mattel decided to auction off “Barbie” dolls portrayed as uneducated young black women in the 1600-1700’s. Would it be ok for them to be dressed in patched, raggedy clothes with scarves tied around their heads, carrying baskets? I think not! Why would ANYONE want to perputate such a stereotypical image? Why? Seems like the same issue in my opinion! Offensive is the kindest word to use in this instance! I sincerely hope I haven’t offended anyone here, because that isn’t my intent….ever. But I truly believe some things are just wrong, regardless of the “good purpose” behind the intent. 😦

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