( photo by  Al’s Toy Barn )

Have you heard the song from the European pop group “Aqua” called “I’m a Barbie Girl”?

It goes like this: “Life in plastic, it’s fantastic”… The music continues and it is a very upbeat, catchy tune. A deep male husky voice that is supposed to be Ken sings: “Come on Barbie, let’s go party, uh uh yeah…”

Ken and Barbie – just in case you did not know – are two glamorous male and female dolls, a multi million dollar industry, doll role models in fact, that it seems our society is being modelled more and more by… The definition of what is “hot” to look at and look like – both for males and females – is very “exact” in our society and it is getting worse…

This last weekend, during a business trip, I watched TV in my hotel room, something that I do not do at home. I was shocked and appalled to see just how bad sexism really is in our culture. I watched a program where girls and boys who were considered by themselves and others to be “geeks” ( to quote the program ) changed their appearance completely to one which was very plastic. Indeed, they became very “Barbie and Ken” and lacking in any finesse…

The clothes that they wore for this “make-over” had a very specific look. It was a look which was very sexually provocative. All the personalities, voices and humor were also all scaled down to an empty headed, very basic level, most especially from the girls. What was even more horrifying was to see how the young people in the audience were relating to these shallow and hollow role models so very seriously… That same evening, I watched two other programs, which were along the same track…

Who do we blame? Did it all start with the eternal party girl Betty Boop or were there others before that?

On the positive side we could say that there is always someone like Bill Gates, the computer giant, who was a billionaire in his thirties and yet does not look like the “hot” Ken image that society dictates… Still, this too has a down side… How many parents now are stuck with this role model, allowing their children to be in front of the computer for endless hours in the hope that they too will be a future Bill Gates?

What happened to individuality? What happened to honor and respect for women? Not just the pseudo-religious type that dictates that all women should dress down and act like “mommies” to earn this respect and to feel safe, but the real kind, the kind that comes from the heart…

Have we all truly become so cynical? I don’t think so. What about all those women in positions of power who are still exploiting their sisters by playing those tired old macho games with the men? Reinforcing the situation, just happy not to be the ones taking their clothes off and having breast implants to get some kind of reaction and attention and good hard cash?

In 1998 these are certainly not the only ways for women to be valued, nor have they ever been, but you might be very surprised at how many women today believe that they are… What is it going to take to change this sad, basic and primitive state of things? The answer is an easy one: Men and women, step out of your roles! It is not smart to be sexist! Speak out and speak up! When you see sexism, stand alone if you have to but refuse to take part in it! Be conscious and make a difference!

Together we can create the future that we all dream of, where we all are equal… No one needs to feel great by standing on the head of another… This is only fear based… It is time to remember that valuing others and ourselves is also about way more than the physical look of body parts and status…

We will never reach the stars, create heaven on earth or create endless universes while we still perpetuate this misery and degradation… It is time to move on, to clean up. We are all involved just by seeing and doing nothing. Yet, we are each here to make a difference…

Many years ago, I realized that I had a choice in the world, as it stands today, to use either my body or my mind to express myself, to be noticed and to make a difference… I chose my mind… But I am so saddened to see and feel that still, in these times, many women feel so limited and that they have very few real choices…

I can help you find yours…