If you’re starting your Christmas shopping early, first of all, thanks for making me feel guilty for not doing so yet; and second of all, you might be on the lookout for some feminist gift ideas for the young ladies in your life. If your daughter, niece, or grandchild is a Barbie fan already, a title like Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer might catch your eye, but don’t be deceived: as The Mary Sue reports, this book is a big a pile of sexist dreck as you’re likely to find in the bookstore.
The book’s one redeeming grace is that it does, at least, entertain the titular idea that Barbie could be a computer engineer, rather than insisting she stay at home in the kitchen to make dinner and/or babies for Ken. It opens with Barbie telling her sister Skipper about a video game idea she came up with: getting a computer-animated robot puppy to do ‘cute tricks’ if you solve the game’s puzzles. Barbie also mentions in passing that this game is meant to teach kids how computers work, which should be your first warning sign that Barbie, perhaps, has no freaking idea how they work herself. But then, when it comes to actually writing the code for the game, there’s just one little problem:
Haha, silly Skipper! Girls can’t actually write code! Leave that to the menfolk, sweetie.
Just in case the main character of a book called I Can Be A Computer Engineer handing over the actual computer engineering tasks to the fellas wasn’t bad enough for you, the book isn’t content to let Barbie off the hook for her gender just yet. As she’s talking to Skipper, her computer promptly goes on the fritz. Poor, sweet Barbie attempts the tried-and-true computer engineer’s solution known as “turn it off and on again”, but no luck: Barbie has apparently not kept up with her McAfee updates, and computer has a virus. Luckily, she backs up all her important files on a flash drive. A pink, heart-shaped flash drive that she wears as a necklace. She’ll just move her files to Skipper’s computer, right? WRONG.