Occupy Barbie: famous doll splits a German town

2:44 pm - April 18th 2013

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by J.C. Piech

In what was once the heart of East Berlin, Barbie now smiles from a pink billboard and urges Berliners to ‘visit me!’

A giant pink Barbie Dreamhouse is under construction near the Alexanderplatz, where you’ll be able to cook cupcakes in the kitchen and ‘explore the endless Barbie dream closet’. The Dreamhouse website offers a Megastar VIP package which includes a ‘personal bracelet in a glamorous box’ and participation on the fashion runway stage.

Christopher Rahofer, the man behind the enterprise, says the tourist attraction “is just about having fun.” But Franziska Sedlak, a member of the youth wing of the German Left Party doesn’t agree.

“The Barbie Dreamhouse is a symptom of women’s oppression,” she says. Franziska and others have started a campaign against it. “We are organizing meetings, where we discuss roles, sexism, and the economic situation of women.”

Over the past ten years there has been increasing objectification of women in the media, says Franziska, and the ‘Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse’ campaign was started to protest the Dreamhouse development, and to trigger discussions on women’s rights.

Their Facebook page is steadily increasing in followers, and a number of news publications, such as Spiegel.de and the Telegraph have covered the story. Campaigners also plan to demonstrate at the opening ceremony in May.

The Campaign particularly highlights the problems with Barbie as an impossible physical ideal for young girls. “Barbie produces a completely unnatural beauty image,” says Franziska. “The figure would break in the middle if she were a real woman… Why do women learn that they have to be pretty all the time?”

“In Germany we’ve had a lot of discussion about sexism in the last two years. Women in Germany do 90% of the housework, [and] they still earn 23% less than her male colleagues. They are still victims of violence at home.”

The movement joins a series of recent anti-sexism campaigns in Germany and across Europe. After news emerged that German Free Democratic Party politician, Rainer Brüderle, told a female journalist she “could fill out a dirndl well” (a traditional Bavarian and Austrian low-cut dress), a twitter hashtag #aufshrei (outcry) triggered over 60,000 Germans to share their experiences of sexual harassment.

In France last year, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, head of the newly formed Women’s Rights Ministry devised some anti-sexism courses for French ministers to attend. And on Monday, UK Girlguiding members voted to add their support to the on-going ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, which has gained support from a number of MPs and celebrities.

Franziska sums up with her thoughts on good role models for German girls: “We don’t think there should be only one role model [for girls],” she says. “There should be a variety, not just one pink standard model. Every strong woman who stands for her rights is a good role model. And for children there are lots of alternatives, like Bibi Blocksberg, Ronja Räubertochter, Pippi Langstrumpf (Longstocking) and so on. These are role models whose main tasks are not to be pretty and to cook all day.”

J.C. Piech is a freelance writer. She has also facilitated community workshops for people with mental health issues. http://twitter.com/jcpiech
Images from the Occupy Barbie FB page.

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Reader comments

Why do women learn that they have to be pretty all the time?”

That’s a tricky one, it really is. Why don’t women want to be ugly?

I’m guessing it’s because they are pressured by the patriarchy to conform to outmoded gender stereotypes but every time I’ve actually asked a woman why she bothers to make the effort to look attractive, she’s laughed in my face.

It’s certainly a mystery……..

“We are organizing meetings, where we discuss roles, sexism, and the economic situation of women.”

Sounds like a fun night out.

Agree with the basis of the campaign mind you.

Feminism is great of course, but “cultural feminism” is the biggest pile of crap that’s infected the left since Maoism.

I hope all these campaigns fail dismally.

As long as nobody is forced to visit this attraction I don’t have a problem with it.

you’ll be able to cook cupcakes in the kitchen

Fuck that! Much easier just to go Krispy Kreme and have some delicious donuts instead.

6. the a&e charge nurse

“Barbie produces a completely unnatural beauty image” – thats a bit harsh on the Merkel range, isn’t it?

Where is a lisa simpson when you need her.
I hope there is a Ken version.
Surely feminists have better causes.

8. Shatterface

Klaus Barbie was a terrible role model for girls and Germans are right to object to a museum in his honour.

9. Shatterface

I may not have read the OP carefully.

10. Shatterface

The irony is that the endless campaigns against processed food and in favour of ‘healthy lifestyles’ cause infinitely more shame about body image than bits of plastic ever will.

Sounds hideously dull. What is the City of Berlin coming to?

When I put Barbie + Berlin in a search engine the top references were for Barbie Deinhoff’s bar, which sounds a lot more interesting.

It always puzzles me when feminists seem to fixate on sexism and ignore everything else, like the crass consumerism this rubbish is also inculcating in young people. Don’t the feminists have any complaint about that?

Overall though the thing’s probably better ignored. If nothing else, the antis are probably creating a Streisand Effect and free publicity for this rubbish.

“Klaus Barbie was a terrible role model for girls and Germans are right to object to a museum in his honour.”
Wasn’t there a Klaus Barbie museum run by neo Nazis in a chevy chase film once.
Trouble with this thread I cannot get that f*****n Agua song out of my head.

Sorry Aqua, bloody swedes

14. Daniel Factor

If someone thinks Barbie is a bad role model for young girls why not offer some alternatives? Why do these protestors feel the need to try and stop others from enjoying it just because they don’t like it?
And why have so many on the Left adopted the “BAN THIS NOW” mantra as an answer to so many of life’s problems?

15. Alex MacDonald

I just knew this would produce the usual spate of “bloody feminists need to chill out” posts. Surely after 200 years or so the sexists would just get bored of saying that…

No-one can deny the harmful effect of unnatural and objectifying symbols such as Barbie on men and women. I think it is very good that some people are taking an active stand against a highly insidious form of female exploitation.

And that does not equate, bytheway, to advocating a banning of Barbie. You can’t really challenge perceptions and stereotypes by simply getting the state to flex its muscles…

The best protest, as always, came from FEMEN: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/femen-vs-barbie/

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