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Jewish World Review
Jan 23, 2012/ 28 Teves, 5772
Barbie sparks fear among Iran's mullahs
If there is such a field as geopolitical psychiatry, it should be applied to the manifold insecurities of Iran's ruling class of clerics and other right-wingers.
They have renewed a campaign against what they see as a deadly threat to the country's social and cultural fabric -- the Barbie doll.
Iran outlawed the sale of Barbie dolls in 1996, but, as any Western parents of little girls could have told them, Barbie is resilient and peculiarly resistant to the changing mores of feminism, sexism and political correctness.
Maker Mattel offers periodic adaptations, but these usually involve mildly reconfigured dolls -- had the original been a real person, she would have been 5 feet 9 inches tall, measured 36-18-33 and weighed 110 pounds -- with whole new lines of clothes and accessories.
Periodically, Iran's government launched campaigns to confiscate Barbies from stores on the grounds that they were "Trojan horses" for destructive and un-Islamic Western values. Like Saudi Arabia, which also banned Barbie, the Iranians tried to come up with acceptable alternatives, but the dowdy, modestly attired Dara and Sara twins never caught on. Neither did another Mideastern alternative, Fulla.
Little Muslim girls would have their Barbies. Now the Iranian religious police have taken to closing down stores that sell Barbie. The Associated Press says that Tehran is calling it a "new phase" of its crackdowns on "manifestations of Western culture."
The humorless Iranian government has never really grasped the concept that the ridicule from its own people is a greater threat to the regime's legitimacy than any thing the West might do.
Barbie was "born," so to speak, in 1959, making her 20 years older than the Islamic revolution. If we're betting on which one will outlast the other, our money is on Barbie and the single-mindedness of doll-obsessed little girls. The clerics mess with that force of nature at their peril.
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