If you gave a Barbie to a child in France, you might want to check the box. The French feminist group FièrEs secretly inserted pamphlets into hundreds of barbie toys and plastic guns reading “this toy is sexist. They stressed that “We have caused no damage or ripped any plastic. We simply slipped the message in boxes, or in books.” Of course, there is the injury to families who do not want to expose their children to the rantings of an extreme group that wants to use their children to make some point of social protest.
Delphine Asian, a legal representative for the feminist group, said “We targeted games that are emblematic of boy-girl stereotypes.” This lawyer appears to believe that inserting such messages for children to discover is not legally problematic if you do not actually damage the toy. The note asks parents sign a petition and send it to those “responsible.” The group however insisted that it is not trying to “make parents feel guilty.” No of course not. Just trying to use their children as instruments for protest. It said that it hoped to “raise awareness about the fact that toymakers and sellers play a part in the fact that not a single little girl asks Father Christmas for a sword.”
I have previously written columns on the campaign against toy guns (here and here). I fail to see the alarm over such play and, as noted in the prior columns, the obsession of some parents is often based on inaccurate accounts of academic research.
However, none of that debate matters. It is a particularly rotten and thoughtless act to insert such a note for children on a special day for families. These women have few limitations in creating angst-filled, feminist obsessed holiday. Yet, that is not sufficient. This group has to insert itself on Christmas mornings.
In the United States, it is a crime to tamper with products but this is not a lethal or physically harmful addition. Under the common law, there is trespass to chattel where stores could sue the group. The options in France are unclear. Perhaps one of our readers in France can enlighten us.