The Birds and the Barbies

Barbie and Ken

THEME: Sex, Love & Intimacy


by Meg

When I was a little girl, the only thing I needed to be happy was my Barbie collection. An afternoon alone would not bother me, because I could hunker down in my rosebud-wallpapered bedroom to play. I’d pull out my favorite brunette Barbie and my most handsome Ken – wearing his signature denim jacket (swoon) – and I was complete. I would put them in the pink Porsche convertible with real working headlights and drive around the hallway with the doors closed so it was dark and romantic. I would like to tell you that I invented wonderful adventures, and that all my Barbies had very impressive careers, but I can’t. For 99% of the time my Barbies were in my hands… they were boinking.


Bumping uglies… well, plastic mounds.

I had a Barbie Buddy throughout elementary school who was my best friend and constant companion. Wendy. We would not bring our Barbies to school for we knew it would only bring unwanted attention and mocking. No, Barbies were a private and personal affair best suited for each other’s bedrooms and basements.

I taught Wendy the wonders of Barbie sex:

(Scene opens on eight-year-old Meg and Wendy playing with Barbies. It’s the 90’s, so everyone is inexplicably wearing neon – even the Barbies.)


Look, see, they kiss like this for a long time. (Smashes their faces together.) Then, they take off their clothes like this. (Un-velcros their hip outfits.) Then, you put a blanket over them and they go to sleep. In the morning, they have a baby!


It’s so simple!

(They proceed to make their Barbies have sex in front of each other, unintentionally reenacting a 1960’s swingers party.)


I don’t know how, but Wendy’s mom, Peg, found out about our Boning-Barbies. Perhaps she had been eavesdropping, or maybe Wendy thought that what we were doing was wrong. In any case, a call was made to my mother. I can only imagine what that call must have been like. Peg was a devout born-again Christian, and my mom was a comfortable Lutheran. I’m sure it wasn’t one of my mom’s favorite moments of parenting. But I have to say, it was one of mine.

After that call, my mom asked me to have a talk. She relayed what Peg had said – that I tainted Wendy’s innocent past-time with debauchery and lewdness. My mom asked if this was true and my face turned red with shame. She then asked where I learned about that.

I didn’t really have an answer for her – I had just naturally become aware that people have sex and it’s pretty interesting. Kids were talking about it at school, and I had older siblings who were making jokes about “69ing” (though at the time I’m pretty sure they didn’t know what that was). I do have a theory about where I learned some key information: movies. Now, I’m not trying to “pin” this on anybody, but my Dad probably took me to movies that were just a smidge inappropriate for me.

Anybody remember Jade? You know, it came out at the height of David Caruso’s career? It has a distinct scene where a woman sits on a man’s face and I remember thinking, “SHE’S TRYING TO KILL HIM!!!” This scene was also on the poster for the movie? Remember? Yeah, I saw that in the theaters… I was 10. So, I may have picked up a few moves from rated R films in my youth. You’re welcome, Ken.

As an aside: I wouldn’t trade my movie dates with my Dad for anything. We saw everything and it was an excellent education that put me on a track to become a writer. I’m sure of that.

So, back to the dreaded conversation with my mom: after a few moments, I said, “I learned it from movies… like Ace Ventura”. My mom nodded and hugged me. She told me it’s not that big of a deal and that I shouldn’t be embarrassed.

Isn’t my mom kind of the best?! She just wanted to make sure I was being curious and hadn’t been abused, and then told me it was natural. Looking back, I realize I’m pretty lucky to have grown up at the time I did with the parents I had. I lived in a liberal house with a feminist mother. The Sex Ed in my public school was actually pretty good. I learned about anatomy, intercourse, contraceptives, and witnessed a glorious slideshow of terrifying STDs. I came into my young adulthood quite informed.

The time came when playing with dolls was losing it’s appeal. I was tired of my Barbies getting all of the action. By the time I hit middle school, I had abandoned my plastic friends and spent my free time obsessing over boys. I was a choir and drama kid, so sex in high school was not in the cards. I attended the University of San Francisco, populated with 70% women, and many lovely gay men. The straight men either had girlfriends or complexes. I didn’t have high hopes for meeting anyone on campus, and resigned myself to my abstinent state for the next four years. I didn’t imagine I would blossom as a woman until I met the right guy. I was wrong!

I embraced my womanhood like many young women at liberal art schools did: by joining the cast of The Vagina Monologues.

My senior year, I was cast as The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy, a monologue where a sex worker imitates all the moans she’s come into contact with over the years. It’s a coveted role and I was intimidated and exhilarated to get to perform it. This character was comfortable in her sexuality. She was confident and calm. She was completely uninhibited. I envied that, but seeing as I was young and still discovering myself, I decided to adopt some of my favorite parts about her.

While getting into my character was rewarding, the truly transformative part of this show was working with so many women. The show bonds the cast, and opens up a dialogue women don’t get to have nearly enough. Doing that show with that group of women taught me a very important thing about myself: I’m not weird. There’s nothing wrong with me; all women share similar stories about their bodies and sexuality. The conversations in the green room and cast parties were so wonderfully intimate and universal. We shared stories of unrequited love, loss of innocence, what we had been taught to be ashamed of, and personal traits that made us proud.

It seems so cheesy typing it out now, but I’m grateful for my experience with The Vagina Monologues, because it helped form my outlook on sex. Sex scared me just enough to make me wait until I was ready – I gathered pretty quickly that you make yourself extremely vulnerable, and I was in no rush to do that (also, STD’s, guys). Though, when I was ready, I was unashamed and confident. I may have been an unusually curious, pervy kid growing up, but the more I talk about it, the more I find I was not the only one. I know a lot of girls had promiscuous Barbies under their bed or in their toy bins. We’re all perverts, guys! Isn’t that a comfort?!

I am happy to be a sex-positive woman. I want more women to be comfortable with their bodies and with their desires. I want more conversations over a bottle of wine about how we’re all the same in many different ways.

(Scene: An American flag drops behind Meg and a podium rolls quickly in front of her. She heroically stands at the podium.)


I want little girls across the country – NAY! – across the globe to know that when their Barbies are doing the No-Pants-Dance, that they are not alone!

God Bless You, and God Bless America!

*Photo credit: RomitaGirl67

2 thoughts on “The Birds and the Barbies

  1. WAIT! You turned off the lights and played in a dark hallway?!?! I learn something new about my kids everyday. Love you. Now to sip my hot cup of Lutheran coffee. It’s heavenly! Mom

    Sent from my iPad


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