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Is This the End of Barbie?

Is This the End of Barbie?

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Does the publication of “Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer” spell the doll’s demise?

Barbie, the svelte blonde fashion doll, has weathered many scandals in her 55-year career, but the icon of old-school femininity (and a touchstone for many gay boys), may soon be relegated to history.

A book published by Random House, "Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer," has spawned the kind of backlash not seen since 1965's "Slumber Party Barbie" came accessorized with a weight-loss book that gave young girls the simplest dieting instruction ever: "Don't Eat ." (It also came with a fetching pair of pink open-toe heels with blue pompoms, but that's another story).

Written to accompany a Computer Programmer Barbie, that comes with a hot pink laptop, the book by Susan Marenco shows Barbie crashing her laptop and having to enlist two men to do all the actual technical stuff. Although published in 2013, an excoriating take-down on the blog Pamie.com has turned the book into a trending topic, with sites from Business Insider to Gizmodo taking up the cudgels.

The fact that Barbara Millicent Roberts, to use her full name, still hangs on at all is somewhat surprising in an age of video game supremacy and third-wave feminism. After an early '90s nadir, in which a talking Barbie could be heard declaiming, "Will we ever have enough clothes," and "Math class is hard," she made a modest attempt to find greater purpose in life, from dentistry to racing car driver, and even had her waist expanded, but Mattel seems to have blundered hard with this one.

The excellent website, Pamie.com, gives us a flavor of the contents, with some pertinent annotations along the way.

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