The Internet Has a Perfect Response to the Barbie Programming Book Sexism

The Internet Has a Perfect Response to the Barbie Programming Book Sexism

This week, the Internet was aflame with criticism of the Mattel Barbie book I Can Be a Computer Engineer.

In theory, the text should have been a wild success. Barbie plays the part of a computer engineer, a field in which women are severely underrepresented. In practice, it all went horribly wrong. Instead of reading about Barbie's successes in the land of computer engineering, readers were presented with a character who required a man's help in order to actually do any coding. 

"Your robot puppy is so sweet," says Skipper. "Can I play your game?" 

"I'm only creating the design ideas," Barbie says, laughing. "I'll need Steven's and Brian's help to turn it into a real game!"

Predictably, the Internet went nuts. The original source for the outrage was screenwriter Pamela Ribon, who wrote a fantastic and detailed takedown of the poorly thought-out book. Her headline says it all: "Barbie Fucks It Up Again."

But instead of simply sitting and stewing in its own fury, the Internet decided to respond. Behold, #FeministHackerBarbie:

The images, many of which can be found under the hashtag #FeministHackerBarbie, take the illustrations from the original book and superimpose genuine computer programming lingo over them. They're just the kinds of things Barbie would say had Mattel done a decent job with I Can Be a Computer Engineer. (The person responsible for the website, Kathleen Tuite, is a self-described "rouge hacker.")

Feminist Hacker Barbie submissions can also be found on Twitter:

Though the Internet and the media only recently got hold of Computer Engineer Barbie, the doll and the book have actually been around for quite some time — the Amazon reviews, for example, go back almost a year. 

There's also a petition currently in the works asking Mattel to rewrite the books: "We have to take a stance against Mattel's sexism because Barbie's story reinforced all the clichés women in the tech industry face everyday: Men get all the work done, men are better, men do the important stuff. Tell Mattel to let go its out-dated, irrational and sexist image of femininity and rewrite engineer Barbie's story."

We've contacted Mattel for comment, and will update this story if we receive a response.