Thursday, November 14, 2002

Librarian Barbie

Barbie the Librarian? The library listservs are buzzin'. Mattel has a Barbie career series. Now you can vote: Will Barbie be a librarian, an architect or a policewoman? Everyone's very excited about the prospect of a librarian Barbie, but I'm not 100% sold on the idea. Here's the thing: librarianship is typically a pink-collar profession. We're in a field, like nursing or teaching, that is traditionally female, hence less pay and less respect. Now, mind you, I believe that what we (and nurses, teachers, daycare workers, etc.) do IS worthy of respect and recognition (and $$). However, I have a problem with people cheering on the idea of this doll (a stereotypical woman) being made in the image of an already stereotyped and undervalued position. The other dolls in the series have been an art teacher (Another pink collar!) and a doctor. Not just any doctor, not a pediatrician, but a children's doctor. (Their choice of words. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with pediatricians, I'm saying- why not call things by their real names if we're showing girls possibilities for the future?)

And just how will Barbie be a librarian? Will she have glasses and a bun? An armload of books? Or will she be a sassy mama who can help a patron, research a topic, design and maintain a website, fix a computer, and teach a class in bibliographic instruction with one hand behind her back in the blink of an eye? How are you gonna visually represent THAT, Mattel?

(Does anyone else find it ironic that the end of the web address is products_icanbe2.asp?)

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