“Barbies are for girls and construction sets are for boys. Or are they?”

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&gt;.

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2 Responses to “Barbies are for girls and construction sets are for boys. Or are they?”

  1. ersilva1994 says:


    I found this article too. I am not up in arms over the whole girl toys are pink and boy toys are blue. It kind of bothers me that everything marketed for girls is about household play and cooking. The boys get things like construction toys and science kits and much more. The toys for boys have a wider variety of fields. THey introduce them to different concepts that can then lead to a strong liking for a subject that can lead to a great career. Girls, they can learn about make up and cooking.

  2. irism999 says:

    I found the article you shared quite interesting. It serves as more evidence of how society tries to stick to stereotypical gender roles even when supposedly challenging them through modifications. I like how you point out that the Barbie construction set suggests that a father or male figure in the child’s life cannot play with a regular Barbie doll; it would compromise the male’s masculinity. Rather than challenging fathers to play dolls regardless of gender stereotypes, society has found a way to make the situation more comfortable for the men, a way to make the situation less of an offense by incorporating the construction setting. This is cowardly of our society, and the only ones who benefit in this case are the producers of these shame-free products who respond to society’s insecurities with gender.

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