Barbie and GI Joe

Blast from the Past: Liberate Barbie and GI Joe

Happy April Fools’ Day! This past year has brought us some great feminist pranks, including Pink Loves Consent and a neighborly protest of the always terrible Westboro Baptist Church. However, feminist humor certainly isn’t anything new. One of our Twitter followers (I see you, @SujathaBaliga) alerted us to a great feminist prank covered in the New York Times in 1993:

For the last several months, a group of performance artists based in the East Village of Manhattan has been buying Talking Dukes and “Teen Talk” Barbies, which cost $40 to $50 each, painstakingly swapping their voice boxes and then, with the aid of cohorts, replacing dolls on the shelves of toy stores in at least two states.

The group, which asserts it has surgically altered 300 dolls, says its aim is to startle the public into thinking about the Stone Age-world view that the dolls reflect.

The result is a mutant colony of Barbies-on-steroids who roar things like “Attack!” “Vengeance is mine!” and “Eat lead, Cobra!” The emasculated G. I. Joe’s, meanwhile, twitter, “Will we ever have enough clothes?” and “Let’s plan our dream wedding!”

…A [Barbie Liberation Organization] spokesman, responding to a message left on the group’s answering machine and identifying himself as “G. I. Joe,” said: “Obviously, our goal is to get media attention. We are trying to make a statement about the way toys can encourage negative behavior in children, particularly given rising acts of violence and sexism.”

Barbie and GI Joe

What are your favorite feminist pranks?

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is a senior editor at Feministing.com and soon-to-be civil rights attorney. Alexandra also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky is a senior editor at Feministing.com and soon-to-be civil rights attorney.

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