You Don't Own Me: A Selected Bibliography

March 11th, 2018
Every American, young and old, knows Barbie, the blonde, blue-eyed doll with a large breast and impossibly tiny waist made by Mattel. For decades Barbie has been bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars annually for Mattel. In 1998 Barbie found she had some competition on the toy shelf when Carter Bryant, a Barbie clothes designer then on leave from Mattel, conceived of the Bratz dolls--plumpier, edgier, multiethnic--and subsequently sold them to MGA Entertainment. Needless to say, Mattel execs and Barbie were not interested in sharing shelf space with these upstart Bratz. In You Don't Own Me (W.W. Norton) Orly Lobel delves into the tumultuous decade-long legal battle that ensued between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over intellectual property, entrepreneurship and business ethics, creativity, and ultimately, womanhood. Lobel interviewed the major players, while digging into the court record to find revealing testimony that brings together a tale about the American Dream, the rise of feminism and its evolution, consumer psychology, and the making of icons alongside betrayal, spying, and racism. Orly Lobel will discuss You Don't Own Me on Wednesday, March 21st, 6pm at the Co-op.

The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis - I am a behavioral law and economics researcher and I know the work of Dani Kahneman and Amos Tversky well. I build upon that research in my own work along with co-authors who are behavioral economists. As I describe in You Don't Own Me, I also grew up with a mother who is a psychology professor and she posed me in her experimental studies about gender development playing with Barbie and other "girl" toys versus "boy" toys, so at an early age I inadvertently became a critique of consumer psychology and marketing in the toy industry and I wanted to tell the story of this industry and our cultural icons through a real-life legal thriller, the battles of Mattel against its competitors and challengers. I also love all of Michael Lewis books and his style of telling a character driven narrative true story inspired me to write You Don't Own Me where you will find very colorful, controversial personalities, including the battling executives, the reclusive inventor, the zealous attorneys, and the powerful judges who oversee the trials.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore - Another inspiration for telling the story of a cultural icon - Barbie - is this book about the social history behind the invention of Wonder Woman. In both cases, the stories open up a window to our most important issues in society: economics, equality, cultural expression, images of childhood and womanhood, race relations, entrepreneurship and the American Dream. Imagine my excitement when last week, Jill Lepore, who I've admired as an author but have never met, wrote a wonderful review of You Don't Own Me in the New Yorker!
Barbarians at the Gate, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyarand Conspiracy of Fools, by Kurt Eichenwald - When Booklist wrote in a starred review of You Don't Own Me that compares my book to these two classic great works of non-fiction I was incredibly honored because these two books are exemplary models to me of how to tell a compelling story in a way that is both significant and enjoyable to a broad audience. These stories have lasting effects on our collective consciousness about what is fair and ethical in our markets and societies.
Talent Wants to be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free-Riding, by Orly Lobel. I decided to write my new book You Don't Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie's Dark Side (Norton) very quickly after my previous book came out -- Talent Wants to be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free-Riding (Yale Press). Talent Wants to be Free took a birds-eye view on how innovation happens in creative settings and how corporations compete over employees, recruit, retain, motivate and control their movement in the job market. In 2016 I had the honor of being invited to the White House to speak about my research and the book and I knew that I had to tell the story about creativity and competition through the one of the most fascinating courtroom drama and market battle of our current times.

About Orly Lobel: Orly Lobel is the award-winning author of Talent Wants to Be Free and the Don Weckstein Professor of Law at the University of San Diego. She holds a doctoral and law degree from Harvard University and currently lives in La Jolla, California.
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