Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Sweet Spot: Barbie Brought Me to Orgasm -- Literally

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 8:30 AM

CHRISTOPHER G. BOYD / WHORE! MAGAZINE
  • Christopher G. Boyd / Whore! Magazine

The Barbie doll. Standing at 11.5 inches and made of plastic, this diminutive doll-woman created in 1959 has caused quite a fuss. Girls all over the world still clamor to possess their own, adult women might wax nostalgic when presented with Malibu Barbie, punk-minded females might remember proudly the Magic Marker tattoos drawn on theirs. But it is feminists that have kicked up the dust of debate when they accuse Barbie of being a symbol of everything that is wrong with society's view of women.

CHRISTOPHER G. BOYD / WHORE! MAGAZINE
  • Christopher G. Boyd / Whore! Magazine

They point out that her proportions, if she were made into a real woman are, impossible for a real woman and as a result contribute to the trend of anorexia and low self-esteem. There was also the scandal about the talking Barbie who declared that math was hard. Detractors assert that Barbie is a terrible role model for girls. Though a self-described feminist, I have always been bored by that argument. Then I read this paragraph in Naomi Wolf's book Promiscuities: A Secret History of Female Desire,

click to enlarge 447311_l.jpg
"Barbie's breasts and clothes seem to blunt her personality. In Barbie's life, events were merely excuses for ensembles. Her story could really go nowhere." Those words aroused my annoyance and indignant fury. Her story go nowhere? Are you kidding? Did you have absolutely no imagination at all?

Despite my impoverished hippie upbringing, I still had Barbies. And I loved them. And though my younger sister enjoyed a great satisfaction in ripping the heads off my dolls, I still played with them anyway. Dolls have been made from wooden spoons, apples, twine, and even rags. The fact of how a doll is made is immaterial. It was not her L-curved elbows, abundant hair, and arched feet that inspired delight -- it was her adulthood. As children, we were given the thrill of holding grown-ups in our snotty little hands, able to make them do whatever we wanted them to do.

Rebecca Deans created inventive sagas involving the political battles of "Queen" and "Clown." Madelene Maleficarum, "loved Barbie. We always made extremely soapy plots, with everyone getting pregnant and then miscarrying. Why? I have no idea. It was great fun."

I, along with my friend Kristin Westergaard, conjured up the evil oil magnate "Lord Drudge" who attempted to rule over all independent young women by masterminding situations where they were forced to work for him. Our Barbies were radicals with ridiculous names like Anastasia La Finestra who resisted, rebelled, and fell in love with handsome revolutionaries named Pierre (often another Barbie dressed in Ken's clothes). These stories would last for days and sometimes weeks. They would be played out in bedrooms, attics, and shady backyard bowers. Soundtracks were created, castles constructed, and ramshackle pirate ships floated on the duck pond.

But of course it wasn't just the exciting power plays of adults that appealed. Who wants to pretend to be a mother, with her feeding bottles and diaper changing, when you can make hot, (albeit genital-less) dolls have sex!

CREATED BY JOYANNE AT JOYANNE.ICAYAN.COM
  • Created by Joyanne at Joyanne.icayan.com

A girl I once knew had filled her large doll house (not the Dream House) with numerous Barbies, some Kens, and a G.I. Joe engaged in different sexual positions. Sixty-nine? Sure. Menage et trios? Of course. As often frustrating as it was mashing together hard plastic, or making my barbies kiss (as they had no heads), it did not deter me from concocting elaborate scenarios of carnal passion. Barbies -- excuses for ensembles? Oh hell no. The fun was to get them out of their clothes.

But childhood passes so quickly and we were becoming adult women ourselves. Sex as a reality revealed itself in our own growing breasts, tender peach fuzz, and the beginning of the joys of masturbation -- masturbation that was often actually achieved via Barbie. Perfect tools for orgasm, those long legs.

Despite these pleasures we began to outgrow our dolls of initiation. To ritualize this transition, a number of women, without external provocation, killed their Barbies. One buried hers in the backyard in coffins she had made in her father's tool shed. Another baked them in a casserole dish, accidentally setting fire to the kitchen. I threw mine off a cliff (I can only imagine that the fish were rather startled.) But most women I have spoken to were content with cutting off her hair and ripping off her arms. Thus, with Barbie happily destroyed, we got on with the business of becoming ourselves.

click to enlarge DAY OF THE DEAD BRIDE AND GROOM CREATED BY LISA HAMILTON FOR ALTEREDBARBIE.COM
  • Day of the Dead Bride and Groom created by Lisa Hamilton for AlteredBarbie.com

Is it possible that some of the body issues I had as a young woman stemmed from the unrealistic beauty ideal of Barbie? Perhaps. However, as there are so many other aggressive culprits out there in the world ready to tear into the flesh of young women's self-worth, to so vociferously blame poor wide-eyed Barbie seems a little unfair -- particularly unfair as many a girl hated Barbies and were easily able to reject her potentially harmful charms. Jennifer DeRuff was creeped out by Barbies. "Give me a book, a game, a craft, markers and paper -- anything! Just not dolls!" she says.

I like a good book myself but at the risk of sounding like Camille Paglia or someone who doesn't recognize the evils of marketing, I am weary and wary of the victimization asserted by a certain kind of feminist. In honor of the joy (and orgasms) that Barbie gave me, I would like to insist that girls are often far more fierce, imaginative, and inviolable then they are given credit for.

Side Note: I enjoyed Naomi Wolf's book, and it is worth a read despite my disagreement with her stance on Barbies.

The Sweet Spot is a blog column about alternative sexuality by Ginger Murray who is also the editor of Whore! magazine. Check back next week for more.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Ginger Murray

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"