By ASHLEY VANHOOK
Guest columnist
progress@eku.edu

If you’ve been tuning into the news lately, then you can’t help but notice the awareness of feminists and the shenanigans that have been ruffling the feathers of viewers and activists alike. Emma Watson received a ton of attention after speaking about equal rights at the UN; on the flipside, Jennifer Lawrence received just as much attention from her photo hacking scandal.

There has been a lot of debate concerning what the word feminism really represents. Most people think feminism is interchangeable with man-bashing, but it is really the equal opportunity for everyone, not just women. You can call it a movement or an ideology, but the core of the feminist idea is to be treated equally and fairly. Isn’t that what every human deserves?

Now we’re hearing about Mattel’s Barbie and how she has a negative effect on children and is a direct contradiction to the feminist ideal. Whatever your initial response to the controversy, my reaction was that of anger.

“You can’t be a feminist and like Barbie!” is a common mantra of some feminists.  Really? If I recall correctly, Barbie was quite the role model. She was an astronaut, teacher, veterinarian, doctor, dancer, gymnast, nurse, flight attendant and a mother. The list goes on. 

When I was younger, I would often set up a homemade dungeon where Barbie was the gal in charge torturing tyrants. She would skydive and travel to exotic places, fall in love with multiple Kens and be “awfully married,” instead of lawfully. She would preside over funerals, mostly because she was secretly torturing and murdering the bad guys. To me, she was always strong and independent, and may have had G.I. Joes as children, driven sport cars, had facial piercings and fake tattoos, but Barbie will always be the ultimate symbol of equality in my eyes.

If you identify with feminism, the plight of Barbie shouldn’t matter in this day and age. Barbie came in different colors of ethnicity, had different careers and now comes in different sizes. The point is she gave children animated imaginations and might have influenced you into wanting to grow up to be in the career you’re in. Just walking into a store and looking at the plastic box she comes in, decorated with her different pursuits, made you day dream and wonder who you would eventually become, the life you would lead or the adventures you would have.

When I was a little girl, the thought that women in 2014 would make 88 cents for every dollar my male counter part earns was beyond my imagination.  I didn’t know I would have to struggle for promotions and fight just to get my foot in the door because Barbie could do anything she wanted.

I, for one, am glad that Barbie represents my childhood and the perception of what a girl can do. I’m also glad that I can call myself a feminist. And just like the women’s suffrage movement, the feminist movement will be successful.