This New York Times article discusses Mattel’s creation of a Barbie construction house. Its main claim is that men now have a larger role both buying toys and playing with their kids, and children now have a wider range of toys with which they can play. Yet, while the introduction to this article states “Barbies are for girls and construction sets are for boys. Or are they?,” this new addition to the world of consumerism is not quite as groundbreaking as it seems. While it sounds like Mattel seeks to challenge gender roles by blurring the stereotypical line between father and mother, this is not the case. Yes, Mattel has created a Barbie construction dream house in order to convince fathers to play more with their daughters. However, while this seems enticing, I believe it only serves to reinforce gender roles. If a man wants to play with his daughter, why do they have to play with a construction set? Can’t a man just play with a normal Barbie doll? Mattel’s new toy seems to reinforce one answer: “no.” If a man plays with his daughter’s Barbie doll, he will be uninterested and emasculated. Therefore, this new play set creates an even deeper link between consumerism and the perpetuation of gender roles. If we want our consumer culture to create more gender equality, then men should be able to play with Barbie dolls, Barbie dolls shouldn’t have to change. Regardless of whether or not I support Mattel’s new mission, though, this article is still a very interesting read.
Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/business/more-dads-buy-the-toys-so-barbie-and-stores-get-makeovers.html?smid=pl-share
Clifford, Stephanie. “More Dads Buy the Toys, So Barbie, and Stores, Get Makeovers.” The New York Times. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/business/more-dads-buy-the-toys-so-barbie-and-stores-get-makeovers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0>.