Mattel celebrated this year’s International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by unveiling 17 new Barbies, all modeled after famous and successful women. The Shero Collection includes the likenesses of filmmaker Patty Jenkins, snowboarding champion Chloe Kim, artist Frida Kahlo, mathematician Katherine Johnson, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and boxing champion Nicola Adams. Each doll comes with some educational information about the contributions to society by the woman who inspired it.
Although the company’s intentions must have been genuinely good, there’s just too much question about the statement they’re trying to make.
Where do we even begin?
First of all, why “shero”? Are the people at Mattel not aware that the word “hero” already has a feminine form? It’s “heroine”! Moreover, “hero” itself is very much gender neutral, and it’s perfectly fine to use it to refer to a woman. Inventing this new word is just another example of a desperate attempt by someone infected with third-wave feminism to point out sexism in everyday language. But the word ‘hero’ comes from the Latin “hērōs” and ancient Greek “hḗrōs”, and has nothing to do with the English ‘he’ pronoun.
Naming aside, the mere concept of these dolls patronizes women and once again proves the hypocrisy of feminists. Let’s consider the impact of owning a Shero Barbie on a young girl: Won’t she wonder why boys are not playing with dolls of Albert Einstein, Tiger Woods and Pablo Picasso? If asked this question, what would the answer of the designers be? If they explained to her that she needed the toy because she’s oppressed, and she should always keep this at the back of her mind, that could lead to some horrible psychological consequences.
Many feminists advocate that children should be taught about the inequality of the sexes from an early age. Although we can look at this suggestion from many different perspectives, one very rational conclusion is that this would inevitably instil a sense of inferiority in girls — the exact opposite of what feminism allegedly seeks to accomplish.
Instead of making girls insecure by treating them as victims who need to be saved, and confusing boys by blaming men for all of women’s misfortunes, why not just treat children as equal human beings? While being treated as equals, there’s no reason why they couldn’t be allowed and encouraged to explore their inherent differences at the same time.
The radical feminists of our day have long campaigned for giving children gender neutral toys, while ignoring the scientific evidence suggesting that boys and girls do indeed have different and distinct preferences. These differences start to manifest within the first year of their lives, and the vast majority of baby boys and girls tend to go for toys that are traditionally considered to match their gender. Findings like this, of course, anger feminists who are intent on proving that there are no biological and psychological differences between the sexes.
Since it makes sense to believe that little girls do inherently prefer dolls to trucks, Mattel should at least be given credit for trying to come up with creative ways to re-invent an old favorite, Barbie. But they have no credible excuse for ensuring the new dolls come with some homework. Yes, learning can be fun, but boys don’t have to endure a history lesson with each toy car or plane they are given.
It’s also worth mentioning that the company has been criticised for not doing justice to the actual appearance of the women when designing the dolls. All the pieces in the Shero Collection still boast the unnaturally skinny figure of the original Barbie, and the Adams doll’s shape doesn’t reflect the athlete’s muscle mass. Kahlo’s family have also taken issue with the doll, saying that it fails to portray the artist the way she really was: the eye color is too light and the characteristic eyebrows are not depicted accurately either.
Mattel wasn’t the only company looking for a special way to honor Women’s Day this year, only to come up with divisive and cringe-worthy ideas. For instance, McDonald’s flipped its logo to become a ‘W’, prompting responses that highlighted how low wages and zero-hour contracts impacted women – and men, too, obviously. KFC Malaysia celebrated womanhood by replacing the image of Colonel Sanders with his wife Claudia Sanders as face of the company, for a limited time.
Amy Balog is a London-based writer and journalist.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.