Toy giant Mattel has withdrawn from sale its painfully sexist Barbie book I Can Be A Computer Engineer after a storm of protest.
It apologized for making the anatomically-impossible doll incapable of fixing a PC without two lads' help – let alone program any software for one.
"The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for," a Mattel spokesperson said in a Facebook posting.
"We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl's imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character."
The book was published in 2010 without incident, but caught the eye of the Twittersphere this week thanks to an amusing blog post by Pamela Ribon, titled Barbie fucks it up again.
The illustrated tale opens with a bespectacled Barbie – pink frames, of course – explaining to her sister Skipper that she's designing a computer game. It turns out the actual job of programming the thing will be done by two male friends, though.
When Barb tries to email her design to one of the guys, her computer dies. She reckons it's a virus rather than a hard drive or power supply failure.
Luckily, the wannabe game dev has backed up her work on a pink, heart-shaped USB drive she wears as a necklace, and borrows her sister's laptop to get the email sent – only for that computer to crash too, wiping out Skipper's homework. Skipper is so annoyed she starts a pillow fight with her sister.
At school, she meets up with her pals Brian and Steven, and asks for their help. Luckily for our heroine, the boys are able to hook up her hard drive to the school library's computer, which has "excellent security software," although apparently no means to stop random virus-ridden hard drives being plugged into its network.
The boys save the day and retrieve Barbie's designs and Skipper's homework. Barb's sister is so impressed, she writes an essay about how much she admires her "computer engineer" sister who managed to retrieve her homework. Meanwhile Barbie gets extra credit from her teacher for the game she designed but didn’t write.
As you'd expect for a book aimed at preteen doll players this isn't Hemingway. But a lot of people were offended that Barbie's 1337 skills seem to devolve down to getting boys to do the hard stuff and then claiming all the credit, although we can all think of a few bosses (male and female) who've turned this into a successful management strategy. ®