Politically Incorrect PCs
Gender-normed computing for the young

Hey! Want to establish ultra-restrictive and dichotomously polarized norms of gender-identification for the next generation through the liberal application of stereotyped imagery to typically non-gender-associated consumer goods?

See also...
... by Thomas S. Roche
... in the Scope section
... from October 18, 1999


OK, let's try it in English: Want to brainwash little boys into being cocky, sexist assholes who expect fellatio on the first date and little girls into being prim, uptight ballerinas who diet compulsively and never have an orgasm? Yeah, I didn't fuckin' think so. On the other hand, want to relive your shitty childhood by owning a really fucked-up, kitschy computer or two? Sure you do!

With the Barbie PC from Mattel, you get a computer festooned with goofy feminine imagery to bring girlish giggles from even the most hairy-chested football fan. As you might expect from the heinous color schemes the bitch indulges in for things like her Dream Corvette and Dream House, Barbie's computer is a pale silver monstrosity splattered with pink flowers that look vaguely like those things you stick on the floor of your shower to keep from slipping and breaking your head open like a casaba melon. She comes with matching speakers, monitor, mouse, mouse pad, portable CD-ROM case, and even a digital camera so you can upload pictures of Barbie and Ken in compromising positions.

The whole thing's so sweet you expect the Powerpuff Girls to come flooding out of the screen. The package comes bundled with enough Barbie software to turn Dirty Harry into a flaming queen: Among many others, there's Barbie Riding Club (for the future pony girl), Detective Barbie (for the nascent femme lesbian with cats), and Barbie Totally Tattoos (for the soon-to-be crack-addicted biker chick).

The Hot Wheels PC (which comes with no directions) is dark blue with Hot Wheels flames licking their way up the CPU, speakers, mouse pad, and disk case; the monitor and keyboard are decorated with matching racing stripes. Instead of the digital camera, this one comes with a steering-wheel controller so you can use the included Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver. What, boys don't need to learn how to point and shoot? Oh well, at least they can get used to driving like real men: on the sidewalk, twenty miles over the speed limit, running down pedestrians.

But the software isn't all fun: There's serious stuff like the Hot Wheels Collector's Guide (hmmm... do I sense free advertising?), the Custom Car Designer, and the Hot Wheels Tattoo Designer. Hey, wait a minute, how come tattoos are the only things that apply to both sexes in Mattel's world? Well... heh heh... I guess they've been hanging out in San Francisco.

Which brings me to the reason you need these products in your life: The best thing about being an adult is that if you want a Barbie PC, you can buy a Barbie PC. It doesn't matter if you have an oblong or a stubby appendage dangling between your legs. You can pick Barbie or Hot Wheels. And if you've got a decent enough income... you can even have one of each.

So if you're a parent, do yourself and the world a favor: Let little Butchie pick out the Barbie PC if he digs it... and encourage Butchina to ride the Hot Wheels if that's her thing. Or better yet, write those stinkers at Mattel a letter encouraging them to create a whole product line giving kids more options than just the polarized opposites of the turbocharged schlong party or a ladylike gigglefest. Come on, guys, let's see the RuPaul Random Gender Finder® and Fakir Musafar's Totally Tattoos®.

Hey, Mattel, if you're going to give our tykes options, you should give them some friggin' options, knowhutImean?

Thomas S. Roche is a GettingIt staff writer who adores both Barbie and Hot Wheels -- but loves the Powerpuff Girls best of all.