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What does the name Bad Barbies conjure up? A naked doll with a cigarette perched between her thumb and clump of plastic fingers, enjoying some cuddling time with Ken? How about nine murders and 24 attempted murders, some of which feds say were committed by members of the all-female section of the Bronx Trinitarios gang?
Folks in New York City, where the Bad Barbies were busted this week, can't seem to decide whether to be wowed by these fierce females or shocked by the cruelty of their alleged crimes. I don't even need to ask whether they'd be having the same reaction if the "Barbies" were all male.
An all-male gang of murders would be accepted as something that happens. Not something positive, of course, but not exactly out of the ordinary.
It's the gender of these alleged criminals that makes their string of violent crimes newsworthy. But the question the arrest of Bad Barbies' leader Maria Mejia (along with other members of the Trinitarios) has brought to the surface is hard to pin down. Is it that women are underestimated? Or overestimated?
After all, we may not think of women as cold-blooded killers, but isn't that a good thing? As a woman, I chafe against the assumptions that women cannot do what men can, that we are somehow a weaker or lesser sex. And yet, I can't say I want to be part of a gender assumed capable of murder.
It's difficult as a woman and mother of a female to look at the Bad Barbies and their alleged misdeeds and reason out what this means for womankind. It's certainly not a win. People are dead, people's lives have been horribly interrupted.
Still, there's an undeniable message in the bust of the Bad Barbies: the federal government isn't making old and tired assumptions about women. They're not letting suspected murderers hide behind gender stereotypes.
Be honest with yourself, are you shocked that women are implicated in these vicious crimes?
Image via petercastleton/Flickr