Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

XXX! Sex Secrets Of Barbie And Ken

Illustration for article titled XXX! Sex Secrets Of Barbie And Ken

As everyone has always suspected on some level, America's favorite fashion doll Barbie has a seriously sordid past.

Advertisement

It's common knowledge that the iconic Mattel toy was based on a German sex doll, but according to the new book Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel, that's not the only taint [Hee hee. -Ed.] in the material girl's past. If Barbie's always seemed suspiciously like a male fantasy, it might be because Jack Ryan, the designer who popularized her, was a "full-blown seventies-style swinger" with "a manic need for sexual gratification" from a parade of hired "Barbie clones," including the bombshell who gave Talking Barbie her voice. Says one friend,

"When Jack talked about creating Barbie . . . it was like listening to somebody talk about a sexual episode, almost like listening to a sexual pervert . . ."

Advertisement

Of course, Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler were somewhat more wholesome; as pop culture known, Barbie and Ken were named for their two kids. The book says that young Ken "grew up embarrassed and humiliated by having an anatomically incorrect boy doll named after him . . . [with] no hint of genitalia." Ken, a closeted homosexual who went on to marry and have a family, died of AIDS in 1994; his sister Barbie seems to have borne up under the weight of being an international sex symbol, albeit reluctantly.

To those of us who loved Barbie, none of this will exactly come as a shock: part of Barbie's appeal was always the taint of the forbidden and adult, a grown-up femme fatale in a world of baby dolls. A child is never Barbie's mom; it's a different, less straightforward relationship. Feminists who've criticized the doll as an unrealistic example of femininity may feel vindicated by the knowledge that she was designed as a sex object by a man whose attitude towards women seems to have been less than, ahem, respectful. And yet, it can't be denied that kids love Barbie, in part because she gives them a certain power over a mini adult. (Or a reason to wreak havoc.) Freud would doubtless have a lot to say about the basic appeal of sexuality; as Ken Handler could probably have told him, a doll is never just a doll.

Sex Secrets Of Barbie And Ken [New York Post]

Earlier: It's Barbie, Bitch

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

EdnasEdibles
EdnasEdibles

My mom refused to buy me Ken dolls, perhaps because she knew that I would just make them have sex with Barbie. So I got an off-label barbie doll for a gift once and when I chopped her hair off she looked too manly so I smooshed in her boobs and then put her in this pair of barbie jeans & a t-shirt that I'd written "I *heart* Duran Duran" and that was Ken. But then once Barbie murdered Ken in a fit of rage so I poured red nail polish over his face. When I went to take it off with polish remover, all of the face paint for "Ken's" eyes came off too but a little bit of red nail polish got stuck in the cracks.

Then fake Ken became a crazed psycho killer who would always hijack Barbie's convertible and force her to strip naked in the town square before popping off her head.