Monday, March 22, 2010

"Combat Barbie"

Miss England, Katrina Hodge, has been getting press recently for advocating for change in the Miss England competition. Hodge, who has been nicknamed "Combat Barbie" because she is also a soldier, has gotten the Miss England competition to add an athletic portion, and take out the swimsuit portion of the competition.
I think it's great that Miss England is recognizing that some things about the competition should change. (I don't have time to get into my opinions on "Scholarship Pageants." It's a complicated fascination.) However, it's troubling to me that a woman of such substance and ability should be reduced to the nickname "Combat Barbie." I know it's trying to be funny, but it is relating her to an idealized, pornified, unrealistic distortion of the female form-- a cutesy OBJECT-- really reflects how as a society, we cannot deal with women who do not conform to one stereotype. Why should they have to conform to any stereotype? We don't call good-looking men in the armed forces "Combat Ken?" Why should women be any different? Is Katrina Hodge's military success as a woman such a threat to societal norms that we must call her "Combat Barbie" to relate her to something known-- a lifeless doll.

We've come a long way, but we've still got more to go.