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Mattel Continues History of Oppression By Burqa’ing Barbie! RAWR!

So, I’m going to confess something here: I loved Barbie.

I loved Barbie until my teenage conditioning no longer allowed it; social mores are far more destructive than we are willing to admit. I loved her in her varying peach skin tones, sometimes sun-kissed tan, sometimes victorian pale. Her silky hair – sometimes wavy, sometimes straight; sometimes blonde and sometimes an auburn brown. And let’s not forget her killer fashion sense and knock out unrealistic measurements. Oh, oh, and her various careers which included everything between an Astronaut and Zoologist. I think she, or one her subset friends, also ended up in a wheelchair once for PC reasons.barbie1

You can then imagine my complete shock and awe-joy when I saw that Mattel, apparently unaware of Fulla, decided to introduce the Burqa Barbie.

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

More than 500 Barbies went on show yesterday at the Salone dei Cinquecento, in Florence, Italy.

Of course, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for this. The outcry has been minimal but still rather angry. My fellow Canadian, Barbara Kay wrote a fierce critique of Barbie’s ‘desexualization’ recently in the National Post. In it she deplores Save the Children and Mattel:

I have seen some pretty tawdry advertising campaigns in my time, but I must say this one takes the cake for insensitivity. What’s next in dolls that are “important for girls” to play with? “Illiterate Barbie”? “Forced-Marriage Barbie”?

One has to wonder what was going through the heads of these people. Mattel is a gigantic company with, one would presume, the cream of the advertising world’s crop at its beck and call. Save the Children has for many decades been in the business of rescuing children from poverty, despair and injustice. And yet neither the world’s biggest advertising brains nor the world’s most child-sensitive hearts saw the impropriety of “clothing” the world’s most instantly recognizable toy in the world’s most instantly recognizable symbol of oppression.

In the eyes of the majority who do consider both dolls and guns natural objects of play, however, there should be no moral distinction between Burka Barbie and a putative G.I. Joe figure in a suicide vest for essentially they both represent a medieval Islamist worldview that flies in the face of the West’s most cherished values: equality of men and women and respect for human life, including one’s own.

It’s unfortunate that Ms. Kay is not alone in having these rather annoying and uninformed opinions. First of all, I was unaware that Barbie had ever been a symbol of liberation and already representative of our cherished values of equality between men and women and respect for human life. If anything, Barbie has been an oppressive tool which has engrained into the minds of millions of young girls what their body sizes, faces and lives should be like. Whiteness, blondness, thinness, Ken-ness. Barbie has propagated for long a standard of beauty and perfection which even the majority women who share her skin-tone do not meet.

barbie2Secondly, her point about the burqa not being a traditional Islamic dress is also kinda completely flat out wrong. Harsh? Maybe. Disagree? Listen: the debate regarding the burqa is about whether it is Islamically required or not; it is not about if it is a recent invention – because it, quite simply, is not. The Taliban did not randomly decide that blue bags over their women would suffice Islamic requirements for modesty. That’s not how it worked, Ms. Kay.

Time to problematize this assumption. The burqa has several manifestations and is also a pre-Islamic cultural garment, owing itself to Bedouin culture amongst several other tribal cultures across Eastern regions. Regardless of whether or not it is a religious requirement, it has become a part of the vast Islamic culture and is something which has not always been forced. In fact, at various times in various places, it has also served to help women’s engagement in the public sphere. My favourite person in the world Lila Abu-Lughod covers this rather well in her pieceĀ Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?:

First, it should be recalled that the Taliban did not invent the burqa, It was the local form of covering that Pashtun women in one region wore when they went out. The Pashtun are one of several ethnic groups in Afghanistan and the burqa was one of many forms of covering in the subcontinent and Southwest Asia that has developed as a convention for symbolizing women’s modesty or respectability. The burqa, like some other forms of “cover” has, in many settings, marked the symbolic separation of men’s and women’s spheres, as part of the general association of women with family and home, not with public space where strangers mingled.

Twenty years ago the anthropologist Hanna Papanek (1982), who worked in Pakistan, described the burqa as “portable seclusion.’ She noted that many saw it as a liberating invention because it enabled women to move out of segregated living spaces while still observing the basic moral requirements of separating and protecting women from unrelated men. Ever since I came across her phrase portable seclusion, I have thought of these enveloping robes as “mobile homes,” Everywhere, such veiling signifies belonging to a particular community and participating in a moral way of life in which families are paramount in the organization of communities and the home is associated with the sanctity of women.

This is not to say that the burqa, or hijab or chador or niqab or purdah or whatever your heart desires, has not been used to enforce a male hegemony over women. It, unfortunately, has been. But it’s no different than any other piece of clothing, for men or women, which has been socially (or legally) enforced to reach a certain ideal of an ethos – be it sexiness or modesty. And I know this line has been beaten to death. I know that the whole blah blah it’s all relative blah blah discussion has been exhausted and is tiring. I really wish I didn’t have to say it, but people like Barbara Kay just force people like me (minimally educated) to point out the obvious.

So, how do I feel about Mattel coming out with a veiled Barbie? To be completely honest, as much as I now despise everything Barbie symbolizes and is, and as much as I have a general distrust of corporations doing “noble” things, I think its kiiiinda somewhat cool. I think its cool in its context, which creates Barbies in various traditional cultural outfits for charitable purposes and not in a completely tokenizing manner.

I remember as a child how much Barbie meant to me in those moments of childhood isolation, where you find only yourself and your imagination. As much as I, as a 7 year old, aspired to look like her, I also sought to make her look like me – I would sew her clothing, I would create stories in which no man was ever required for emotional or physical fulfillment (and if so, I’d always reach for my brother’s Wolverine because I never saw it necessary to invest in a Ken) and I’d give her my own names. As much as Barbie is big-O oppressive, she, as with any other doll or action figure, is also a tool of creativity if properly used. And that possibility of creativity, in this case, is assisted by how Barbie is made culturally relatable to girls who can’t find any similarity in this woman. Is that really all that bad? Plus for god’s sake, they can take off the burqa and smack on a cocktail dress. Quit being so anal, Kay.

Now, if we could only make her a size 12 and mass produce these culturally representative dolls to girls of all different cultural and ethnic backgrounds….

…then we’re really talking.

[tarboush tip: maria]

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Discussion

60 Responses to “Mattel Continues History of Oppression By Burqa’ing Barbie! RAWR!”

  1. Excellent post, and excellent usage of Lila Abu-Lughod.

    But alas, get ready for a shit storm when the illiterate trolls think you've actually defended the burqa.

    Posted by Arayus | December 7, 2009, 7:34 am
  2. I don't think Mattel was unaware of Fulla at all. I think Burqa Barbie is a result of losing regional market share to Fulla. Nothing noble or inclusive about this, just money.

    But, I don't think Burqa Barbie will ever get a chance to be a Pashtun astronaut or zoologist. She will rejoice in being able to leave the house in the portable seclusion of her 'mobile home', buy veg and return unmolested, and that will be her version of liberation.

    I'm all for the home being a place for the sanctity of women, but it would be nice if our sanctity could be recognized outside it, too.

    I have oft wondered what level of prejudice has kept a veiled Barbie out of Mattel's international line-up for so many years. I picked up a Ghanian Barbie for a Sudanese friend and marveled at how Ghana can have a Barbie but not Saudi?

    Posted by kinzi | December 7, 2009, 8:35 am
    • Kinzi,

      Firstly, Mattel definitely knew about Fulla – I was just being snarky there. Also, I don't understand why you are associating a lack of agency with the burqa. And why the Burqa Barbie, particularly, even necessitates liberation given the completely oppressive entity that is the Barbie Doll. Seriously. Barbie has never been a symbol of liberation for anyone except investors, from their chains of financial mediocrity.
      Secondly, the burqa does not necessarily prevent a woman from holding a career. Here, in North America, it does because the burqa does not fit with our social mores and ethos. In other places, it does (albeit often grudgingly considering that Afghanistan was/is the only place where this enforced while in several other Muslim countries its still looked upon in a discomforting sense). But women in burqas across the Muslim world are able to work in the public sphere. I know of women who are writers, doctors, editors and professors. A great example is also the Ottoman empire, during which you had several prominent women who were completely veiled but owned their own businesses, were accountants, merchants, etc.

      That's not to say that there aren't women who are secluded from this public sphere, but it's silly of us to completely generalize. Especially from a broad, encompassing Feminist perspective beyond our Liberal paradigm. It's time we also consider that women's liberation does not necessarily equal full and complete presence and prominence within the public sphere – there are ways for liberation to occur in traditions which are not always the patriarchal character that we assign them from our own worldview. I'm not comfortable with the burqa, but knowing women (within my family and outside) who wear the niqab, for instance, I realize how quick we are to take away their agency and their positive liberty given our own ignorance and opinions.

      Posted by SanaKF | December 7, 2009, 11:45 pm
      • oppressive entity that is the Barbie Doll

        Unlike the Burqa, no one forces the Barbie onto women. Yes some women obediently wear it voluntarily, but you cannot deny that some women are forced or coerced to wear it.

        Secondly, the burqa does not necessarily prevent a woman from holding a career

        It would actually interfere with many careers!

        A great example is also the Ottoman empire

        I wouldn't call the Ottoman Empire a great examply, but your point is that there were some women in some places at times who were successful. That still doesn't change the facts in the most of the world today.

        Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 6:06 am
        • Ottoman Empire

          oops :)

          Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 6:11 am
        • In Canada or the U.S. or other free countries, teenagers can get a job in fast food restaurants like McDonalds if they want to. A teenage girl wearing a hijab would not be able to work there, so in this way it restricts her and isolates her.

          I think the Barbie doll is fine, if it sells then it is a good idea. Some people think it is similar to Google filtering the internet in China so they can operate there and make money… to go along with what some see as something repressive to women. But it is just a cultural representation on the doll.

          By the way, the womens libbers usually hated the original Barbie doll, because of its unrealistic measurements or because of the femininity of it or other reasons. I'm talking about the leftist womens libbers which some people refer to as Feminazis lol

          I know you've seen the pictures of religious police beating women in burqas because their elbows showed or something. Don't you think that is ridiculous? Also the whole idea that women should be all covered up while men are free seems ridiculous, unless you grew up around that and it seems normal.

          By the way Sana you are very pretty, so it would be a shame to completely hide :)

          Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 7:08 am
          • Hey Eagle,

            "Unlike the Burqa, no one forces the Barbie onto women. Yes some women obediently wear it voluntarily, but you cannot deny that some women are forced or coerced to wear it. "

            Wrong. The Barbie doll IS imposed on millions of young girls, enforcing the hegemonic heteronormative projection of female sexuality. It is imposed upon them through socialization. Girls play with dolls, boys play with cars. This is how our sexes are conditioned to be and we enforce it daily.

            "It would actually interfere with many careers! "
            Yes, but also where? I'm not in favour of women wearing the burqa here in our society, but many women in burqas are able to work at the professional elsewhere where their dress is accepted.

            "I wouldn't call the Ottoman Empire a great examply, but your point is that there were some women in some places at times who were successful. That still doesn't change the facts in the most of the world today."

            The Ottoman empire was pretty solid, Barbie. It was only towards the end that shit hit the fan. Oh well, all good things must come to an end I suppose. Damn nationalism. But really now, what facts are you referring to?

            "In Canada or the U.S. or other free countries, teenagers can get a job in fast food restaurants like McDonalds if they want to. A teenage girl wearing a hijab would not be able to work there, so in this way it restricts her and isolates her. "

            Er, the hijab or burqa? I wear the hijab and have worked at the professional level, at the media relations level and elsewhere. If people have had a problem with me, its been due to their own insecurities and bigotry. I also know of several young women, who wear the hijab, working at fast food restos, H&Ms, and walmarts. OMGSURPRISE?

            I think you've completely misread and misunderstood what I've written and said. I am not in favour of the burqa or niqab. But I cannot condemn it either or delegate to it the title of oppressive because of history and cultural context. I'm not defending the burqa, but I am pointing out an alternative way of understanding and viewing it. It is a cultural dress which has come to take on a religious significance and is unfortunately, as i've stated endlessly, forced as well as voluntarily worn. Mind you, the whole burqa is extremely rare – you rarely see it. I think the only time I've ever seen it was during my time in Pakistan, in the rather sexual-assault filled marketplaces..

            "By the way Sana you are very pretty, so it would be a shame to completely hide :)"

            uhhh, so you can oogle at me?

            Posted by SanaKF | December 8, 2009, 9:42 am
          • The Barbie doll IS imposed on millions of young girls

            Some man tells them they must play with it or they will be punished?

            This is how our sexes are conditioned to be and we enforce it daily.

            Pointing to a Western toy as evidence of "conditioning of the sexes" while ignoring the burqa and womens second-class status in many places seems like an attempt to justify or shift blame away from what is clearly worse.

            But there are ideas about conditioning for boys and girls, and all that stuff about gender roles, and yes boys and girls are expected to play with certain types of toys. Let's remember that the male and female brains work differently, and the male and female sex hormones work differently, and that the "gender role" stuff is completely natural. Then you get off into homosexuality, and boys that like to dress up in girls clothes and play with dolls, or girls that like boys toys and gender rolls… and then later they may find themselves attracted to the same sex… there are some chemical as well as environmental reasons for that, nature vs nurture. In the 1960s the scientific community decided that homosexuality would no longer be classified as a disorder, so they no longer focused on the causes, which I think was a great disservice to humanity because clearly there are causes for homosexuality: chemical causes such as variances in hormone levels while the baby was in the womb, to brain differences (unclear whether the behavior caused the brain difference, or the brain difference caused the behavior) – to environmental influences such as abuse, relationships with parents, ect. Anyway that is a whole other can of worms! But yes I agree that girls play with dolls, and most girls like the dolls, and if they don't they play with something else, I disagree that it is anything like wearing the burqa EXCEPT that it may be culturally conditioned… but I don't think a girl would naturally want to wear that.

            Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 8:02 pm
          • About the Ottoman Empire I was just thinking about stagnation of the Ottoman Empire (1683–1827) and the decline of the Ottoman Empire (1828–1908). And I read somewhere that Jerusalem was in poor shape while under the Ottomans. But it was an empire, and like all empires it had some greatness.

            But really now, what facts are you referring to?

            The fact that in the majority of the world today, a women could not function as well wearing a burqa… she couldn't have as many job opportunities, as much social interaction, ect. That's all.

            Actually its the burqa that would prevent women from working in places more than the hijab, you're right.

            I did not think you were promoting the burqa, I just wanted to comment on what the perceptions were that you have clearly misunderstood, such as Ms. Kay's and others.

            I think the burqa is cultural. I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with the burqa Barbie, although I see Ms. Kay's point. I do think that the burqa is sort of fading today, and it is the religious aspect that is keeping it around.

            I can delegate to it the title of oppressive, not because of history and cultural context, but because in some places men beat women for not wearing it. What context is a beating, cultural or historical?

            What is a "sexual-assault filled marketplace"? Men acting badly towards women? Actual attacks?

            I would never "oogle" lol I would smile, wave, strike up conversation. Attractive features ( like your pretty eyes, nice lips) are an asset and there is nothing wrong with that. It may not be fair, but research has shown that attractive people do better occupationally and socially. Ok its natural but a little unfair, but remember that in most places an ugly person does better than someone in a burqa lol

            Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 4:32 pm
          • And there you have it… a whole new level of creepiness.

            Good job Eagle =P

            Posted by Arayus | December 9, 2009, 1:16 am
          • Dude, did you just hit on me? There's a line, Eagle, and I'm afraid to see what you just did on it….

            Posted by SanaKF | December 9, 2009, 4:05 am
          • Stop being so anal.

            Posted by Barbie | December 12, 2009, 10:21 pm
      • Hello Sana, snark is hard to communicate on screen, I suppose. I really enjoy your writing, hope you don't mind if I respond candidly.

        Living in Hashmi Shemali, Amman, is what gave me the association. The women in my neighborhood, after marriage, only left their homes to go to the hospital to have babies. They longed to see their own countries, much less have 'agency'. Work outside the home isn't the only definition of agency. It was assumed they would go have sex with the nearest man if given any level of freedom. They live out the local stereotype and generality that women are only slightly above animals in their ability to control their bubbling sexuality.

        They talked about the hassle of wearing the necessary garb when cooking and cleaning, and how nice it would be to feel the wind in their hair outside, to be able to hear conversations without two layers of fabric covering their ears. How hot it can be in summer. Wouldn't this be the most basic of human rights of existence? And this is Jordan, not Afghanistan.

        In light of what these women face, calling Barbie an oppressive entity waters down the true meaning of the word, and what women face in the real world here. I wonder how they would define it? At times your words sound like something written in the syllabus of a Western professor in womens studies, rather than reflecting the heart struggle of those on the ground, living lives at 6% of their God-given potential.

        I agree that there are women who have succeeded in achieving much. Yet I would venture to imagine they are the ones of a different class of people. Only the privileged have the strength to know they have options and pursue them. The fight of the rest is suppressed too early to see it bloom.

        I would be very interested in talking to you when you have more life experience applying what you have learned and see where the silliness of generalities comes from. It must be difficult to have to define and explain aspects of Arab culture to foreigners like me, deal with much ignorance and yet also fight for greater levels of respect for women in the context.

        The greatest change will occur when men cease to view women through the worldview they assign them, and respect and encourage our different-ness rather than fear and suppress it.

        Posted by kinzi | December 12, 2009, 8:57 am
        • Excellent comment.

          Posted by snark | December 12, 2009, 10:23 pm
        • No one is forcing them to wear the burkha. If their husbands don't give them enough freedom, they can always divorce him and look for another suitable guy….or girl ;) Its Jordan after-all, not Afghanistan!

          They can go to Germany's nudist beach and fulfill their rights to freedom. Of-course you can argue that Jordan not having its own nudist beach is a flagrant abuse of basic human rights of existance.
          I'd be unable to argue on that with you ;)

          Posted by Rights to Nudity | December 13, 2009, 1:57 pm
  3. dont you know wearing Hijab is in the Quran NOT CULTURAL….READ PPL…THE BURQUA IS if women want to cover more ie the Prophets wives, but u cannot pray w/ur face covered.

    Posted by johanna | December 7, 2009, 5:47 pm
  4. I don't agree there is anything oppressive about Barbie or putting her in a burqa. It's a freaking doll, not a smart bomb. The only thing oppressive about these dolls is the piss wages they pay to people in China who slave to make them. I really have to love the Islamophobic, neocon hysteria in that article you quoted, though:

    And yet neither the world’s biggest advertising brains nor the world’s most child-sensitive hearts saw the impropriety of “clothing” the world’s most instantly recognizable toy in the world’s most instantly recognizable symbol of oppression.

    The burqa is the world's most recognizable symbol of oppression? I would have thought that honor went to the M-16 or AK47, or to the American and Soviet flags. I guess it all depends on whose boot you perceive to be on your neck. Interestingly, there was a widespread belief among American soldiers that the plastic buttstock and handguards of the M-16 rifle were made by Mattel. It appears to be an urban myth, but Mattel did make a popular toy version of the M-16. I wonder what Ms. Kay would make of this:

    http://killthisblog.com/2009/01/28/mattels-new-m-

    Symbol of "peace" and "freedom," no doubt.

    Posted by Sean2009 | December 7, 2009, 7:26 pm
    • The burqa is the world's most recognizable symbol of oppression? I would have thought that honor went to the M-16 or AK47, or to the American and Soviet flags.

      Well, Sean, she presumably meant oppression of women, since barbie has been something of a right of passage for young girls in the west for many generations. But I'm fairly sure this version of the doll is not intended for a western market, so the point is moot.

      Posted by programmer craig | December 7, 2009, 7:37 pm
    • Sean:

      The burqa really is the most recognizable symbol of womens oppression, from the culture which oppresses women most. Bringing up military hardware, or anything else, doesn't change that.

      Posted by Ariel | December 7, 2009, 9:23 pm
      • She said it was the most visible symbol of oppression, not women's oppression. Even there, you have to ask for whom the burqa is the most visible sign of women's oppression, neocons? For many women in Afghanistan, the ones who have to actually have to wear the things, it has become a symbol of defiance to the people who have invaded their country. Many Muslim women elsewhere don the hijab in defiance of Western cultural imperialism which insists that they should not wear it. For them it is a symbol of resistance, and pride in their culture.

        Ms Kay believes the burqa represents a "medieval Islamist worldview that flies in the face of the West’s most cherished values: equality of men and women and respect for human life, including one’s own." We demonstrate our respect for human life by invading other countries and killing hundreds and thousands of people, and then cynically claiming we are doing it to "liberate" them, just like we did in Vietnam. For the people in Afghanistan who have been driven out of their homes and into squalid refugee camps by American attacks, do you seriously imagine the burqa is their biggest concern? I'm sure most women would prefer the option to wear or not wear them as should be their right, but not getting killed by an American bomb is a bigger issue right now.

        Posted by Sean2009 | December 8, 2009, 6:49 am
  5. Perhaps the solution is not to liberate Burqa Barbie by smart-bombing her, but to come up with some neocon, pro-freedom Barbies for the wee lasses of the world to choose from. Here are some suggestions:

    1. Bankster Barbie: Bankster Barbie features a three-piece blue pinstripe suit by Brooks Borthers. She is employed by Goldman Sacks where she does "God's work" transferring trillions of dollars from greedy Americans to her needy bankster employers at Gold Sacks. Groveling congressperson figure sold separately.

    2. Bagram Barbie: Bagram Barbie comes complete with desert camo outfit and rifle. Bagram Barbie is a specialist in waterboarding and human pyramids, and enjoys her work bringing freedom to the Muslim world. 12-volt battery, wire, alligator clips and cattle prod sold separately.

    3. Bombardier Barbie: Bombardier Barbie has broken the gender barrier and become the first female bombs officer on a B-2 bomber. She is proud of the work she does liberating Afghan women from their forced marriages by bombing their wedding parties. B-2 Bomber and cruise missiles sold separately.

    4. Broadcast Barbie: with her vapid, smart-alecky personality, suicide blonde hair and pancake makeup, this Barbie is a natural for her job at Fox News, where she encourages mindless conformity, xenophobia and aggression in a fair and balanced way. Braindead viewing public not included.

    5. Brainwashed Barbie: Brainwashed Barbie is convinced Barrack Obama is the demon love child of Eldridge Cleaver and a streetwalker in Bophuthatswana and is therefore ineligible to run America into the ground as president. A supporter of Sarah Palin, she is a good, chaste religious woman but does enjoy teabagging her boyfriend as a revolutionary act against the oppression of the liberal media. "My president is a Lyin' African, not an African Lion" T-shirt sold separately.

    Posted by Sean2009 | December 7, 2009, 7:40 pm
    • Sean, what's your problem? Stereotypical barbie became popular in the 1960s. The girls who were playing with them were junior hippies and future feminists. Why you working so hard on trying to politicize this? You having a bad day or something?

      Posted by programmer craig | December 7, 2009, 7:47 pm
      • If I could figure out what the Hell you're on about, Craigie-weggie, I might venture a response.

        Posted by Sean2009 | December 7, 2009, 9:37 pm
        • You made two long-ass comments where you went on irrelevant rants that had nothing to do with the topic of discussion, Sean. But the worst part was when you tried to do a tie-in between barbie and all the people in the world that you hate. As if, they are related…? Unless you hate women in general then I'm pretty sure that Barbie has nothing to do with all the people you attacked in this thread…

          Posted by programmer craig | December 8, 2009, 12:53 am
          • Excellent point!

            Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 6:07 am
          • As always Craig, trying to explain things to someone who is as completely incapable of getting the point as you are is as sensible as discussing advanced calculus with an orangutan. Sorry, I pass.

            Posted by Sean2009 | December 8, 2009, 6:52 am
          • Craig is actually very bright, and he points out the obvious. He shows how ridiculous some of your nonsense is. When you know he is right and you are wrong, and you don't like to face the truth, you get angry.

            Posted by dunce | December 8, 2009, 7:22 pm
          • Well, I appreciate Sean's post. It made me laugh, especially this:

            "She is proud of the work she does liberating Afghan women from their forced marriages by bombing their wedding parties."

            hahaha. This sums up so much of the Afghanistan war right here.

            Posted by Kamal | December 8, 2009, 11:24 pm
    • How do I get my hands on Bagram Barbie?

      Posted by Arayus | December 9, 2009, 5:26 am
    • Excellent piece. Much appreciated :)
      Each of the barbie has a good tag. Rhymes. Bagram barbie, Bankster barbie lol

      Posted by OooKhalid | December 10, 2009, 3:46 am
    • So funny! thanks for the laugh, you are absolutely spot-on!

      Posted by Smurf | December 23, 2009, 5:21 pm
  6. Peeking out of a burqa!

    Posted by lol | December 8, 2009, 7:11 am
  7. It’s unfortunate that Ms. Kay is not alone in having these rather annoying and uninformed opinions. First of all, I was unaware that Barbie had ever been a symbol of liberation and already representative of our cherished values of equality between men and women and respect for human life.

    Ms. Kay is not saying that the original Barbie represents these values, she is saying that Burqa Barbie (or a suicide-vest GI Joe) flies in the face of these values.

    Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 7:21 am
    • I never said she said that. She's expecting a doll that inherently flies in the face of these values to all of a sudden support and propagate them? Please.

      Posted by SanaKF | December 8, 2009, 9:44 am
      • She's expecting a doll that inherently flies in the face of these values to all of a sudden support and propagate them?

        NO! It's not a comparison between the dolls. The regular Barbie doll has nothing to do with it.

        She's saying that equality of men and women and respect for human life, including one’s own, are the West's most cherished values (and they are great values) so making toys that depict values that DO NOT represent equality or respect for human life fly in the face of these cherished values.

        Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 7:13 pm
      • Ms. Kay is NOT lauding how great all the toys in the West are.

        She is saying that depicting a woman in a burqa or a man in a suicide vest flies in the face of the West's cherished values. So her point is that a Western toy company should not have made something like that… especially for little children.

        Posted by Barbie | December 8, 2009, 7:18 pm
  8. The coalition do not bomb wedding parties. The Taliban actually do bomb wedding parties, mosques, funerals, markets, ect. Wake up, doofus.

    Posted by dunce | December 8, 2009, 11:47 pm
  9. Now you know why they invented the burqa :)

    Posted by Sean2009 | December 9, 2009, 1:22 am
  10. You don't take compliments well. Smiling, talking is not hitting or doing something on a line. I wonder what was going on in the marketplace

    in Pakistan because it testifies to the cultural effects of creating this wall with the burqa, where people are sort of socially retarded like

    Arayus or Sean, where pleasantries are unaceptable, behavior is vulgar, and people are beaten or killed for sitting with non-related male

    friends. Ask yourself, why should a woman be completely covered up… are Muslim men that weak, that animalistic? Doesn't it just give

    excuses for bad behavior? Even promote it?

    The burqa is cultural dress, and like a lot of cultural dress it would be fading in favor of newer things except that religious freaks are clutching

    onto it like a desperate old fiend clutching onto some vestige of control.

    The Barbie doll IS imposed on millions of young girls

    Some man tells them they must play with it or they will be punished?

    And gender roles are the result of nature, although the West leads in allowing/encouraging people to take on whatever roles they want.

    You missed the point that Ms. Kay was making. She was not comparing regular Barbie to Burqa Barbie. She was pointing out that it seems

    inappropriate to make a toy that embodies values contrary to Western values of equality and sanctity of life. You reponded by trying to show

    that regular Barbie is contrary to Western values, but that just doesn't hold water.

    I think the doll is fine (but did anyone ask Barbie if she wanted to be in a Burqa?) Maybe they should make a Taliban-Ken doll to go along

    with the Burqa Barbie, complete with a turban and a stick to beat her. tt-tt-dump! thank you i'm here all week

    Posted by Barbie | December 9, 2009, 5:27 am
  11. whats up with the spacing?

    Posted by Barbie | December 9, 2009, 5:27 am
  12. Eagle… just stop, its not funny anymore.

    Posted by Arayus | December 9, 2009, 5:38 am
  13. lol @ Arayus oogling at Nancy Ajram!

    Posted by Barbie | December 9, 2009, 5:39 am
  14. Do you ever make a point, or do you just hover around making childish comments?

    Posted by Barbie | December 9, 2009, 5:47 am
  15. In some places women are forced to wear the burqa, and are beaten for not wearing it.

    No matter how many "cultural and historical context" red herrings we bring up, that fact still remains.

    You missed the point that Ms. Kay was making. She was not comparing regular Barbie to Burqa Barbie. No one ever said that Barbie had ever been a symbol of anything. She was pointing out that it seems inappropriate to make a toy that embodies values contrary to Western values of equality and sanctity of life. You responded by trying to show that regular Barbie is contrary to Western values, but that just doesn't hold water.

    But it’s no different than any other piece of clothing, for men or women, which has been socially (or legally) enforced

    Name some clothing being forced onto people today? The burqa is very different, its a freaking tent designed to create a wall between people.

    they can take off the burqa and smack on a cocktail dress.

    Maybe the Barbie doll can, but the women being oppressed cannot.

    You say that the Barbie doll is "imposed" on millions of young girls… is there some man forcing them to play with it or they will be punished?

    Don't most girls ask for the doll because they want to play with it? Or are they asking for a Barbie doll for Christmas because it has been imposed on their psyche by conditioning, by social mores, by subliminal messages and mind rays? They don't really want to play with the Barbie, they are being forced, but if they wore tinfoil hats they might stand a chance against the mind-control rays.

    NO! It's the corporations and their evil marketing campaigns which are enslaving us all! The women being beaten into Burqas are fortunate to escape the saturating effects of evil business interests, which can be deflected by their corporate-radiation proof Burqas! Now, if we could only make her a size 12 and mass produce these culturally representative dolls to girls of all different cultural and ethnic backgrounds!

    Um, no.

    As much as Barbie is big-O oppressive (not), a little girl unwrapping a Barbie for Christmas or her birthday hopefully will enjoy playing (as you did when you were little) and her imagination can grow, her world of play can be enlivened… and if anything, maybe the Burqa Barbie can be available to a little girl somewhere who might not otherwise have had a doll to play with. And that's why I think the doll is ok.

    Posted by Barbie | December 9, 2009, 5:23 pm
  16. But Mattel is a corporation, and corporations are evil! We need to mass produce these culturally representative dolls… which requires a corporation. "The Barbie doll IS imposed on millions of young girls" We need to impose it on MORE girls!

    The burqa has become a part of the vast Islamic culture and is something which has not always been forced. Not always. Then again, some women are beaten if they don't wear it.

    Quit being so anal OooKhalid. And don't forget to put on your tinfoil hat.

    Posted by Barbie | December 10, 2009, 4:15 am
  17. hehe.. touche!!

    Posted by OooKhalid | December 10, 2009, 2:13 pm
  18. repost of kinzi's excellent comment:

    kinzi:

    Hello Sana, snark is hard to communicate on screen, I suppose. I really enjoy your writing, hope you don't mind if I respond candidly.

    Living in Hashmi Shemali, Amman, is what gave me the association. The women in my neighborhood, after marriage, only left their homes to go to the hospital to have babies. They longed to see their own countries, much less have 'agency'. Work outside the home isn't the only definition of agency. It was assumed they would go have sex with the nearest man if given any level of freedom. They live out the local stereotype and generality that women are only slightly above animals in their ability to control their bubbling sexuality.

    They talked about the hassle of wearing the necessary garb when cooking and cleaning, and how nice it would be to feel the wind in their hair outside, to be able to hear conversations without two layers of fabric covering their ears. How hot it can be in summer. Wouldn't this be the most basic of human rights of existence? And this is Jordan, not Afghanistan.

    In light of what these women face, calling Barbie an oppressive entity waters down the true meaning of the word, and what women face in the real world here. I wonder how they would define it? At times your words sound like something written in the syllabus of a Western professor in womens studies, rather than reflecting the heart struggle of those on the ground, living lives at 6% of their God-given potential.

    I agree that there are women who have succeeded in achieving much. Yet I would venture to imagine they are the ones of a different class of people. Only the privileged have the strength to know they have options and pursue them. The fight of the rest is suppressed too early to see it bloom.

    I would be very interested in talking to you when you have more life experience applying what you have learned and see where the silliness of generalities comes from. It must be difficult to have to define and explain aspects of Arab culture to foreigners like me, deal with much ignorance and yet also fight for greater levels of respect for women in the context.

    The greatest change will occur when men cease to view women through the worl

    Posted by REPOST | December 12, 2009, 10:27 pm
  19. "Plus for god’s sake, they can take off the burqa and smack on a cocktail dress."

    Or the muslim children can just buy a regular Barbie and put a black sock over her head. It's the same!

    Posted by Maria | December 16, 2009, 5:12 am
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