Atkinson's 4 year old daughter wants to bring a monster from her mother's own childhood into the family home. "Now I'm a parent and my four-year-old daughter is counting down the days until Christmas. "What are you hoping for?" I asked her. "A Barbie," she said. Like the school friend who pops up on Facebook after 30 years, Barbie is banging on the door to come back into my life. Only this time, I'm not so sure I want her."
The task of finding a Barbie that fits in with Atkinson's feminist ideals proves an impossible task. There is no freelance writer Barbie, or feminist commentator Barbie, or university lecturer Barbie. The professions Barbie does partake in - whatever you think of Barbie that is one wide-ranging CV - have prompted Mattel to design a pinkified, sparkly and glamorous versions of the required uniform. Frustrating to Atkinson who is trying to find a doll that fits in with her daughters ambition of being a princess fire fighter.
It isn't that I don't understand where Atkinson is coming from, I enjoy verisimilitude in play. I also recognise play is fantasy and that teaching your daughter to completely eschew pink and fear a doll as some sort of sex industry gateway toy, "I played with Barbie â and I never became a pole dancer" is actually a great way to unintentionally instil a selective misogyny in your daughter. 'We don't like those silly women who wear heels and look like what we believe is stripper style, darling.'
It's an easy trap to fall into, feminists do it all the time and end up with the same attitude towards certain women that the misogynists do. It causes good intentions to endanger women and perpetuate silencing attitudes that trap people and reduce women to bodies.
I believe the dismissing of traditionally 'girly' or effeminate items is interpreted easily as disdain for women.
Charlotte Raven's recent article in Feminist Times on heels makes a leap from a simple wish to elongate the leg or wear pretty shoes to self harm and then abusive relationships: "Feminism emphatically isn't about making women feel comfortable about bad or harmful decisions or choices. We have the right to do stupid things, but feminism is there to try and stop us before we hurt ourselves, physically or psychically.
"I wouldn't say to a victim of domestic violence, "well that's your personal choice". I personally live with a man who doesn't hit me but it's cool with me if you have chosen not to. We can condemn the choice without judging the person.
High heels are a form of self-harm. The poor laydeez setting forth in stripper heels need to be given this message and it isn't going to come from Cosmo."
Haha, silly domestic violence victims, you're just as bad as those silly girls tottering about in stilettos and you both need my help to free you from this cycle.
And I bet you both had a Barbie.