GI Joe vs. Barbie

What’s all the fuss about children’s toys?

Millions of children own them, millions of parents buy them, and most of us have played with them at one time or another. So why should we worry about the messages that toys such as Barbie or GI Joe convey about femininity, masculinity and the ideal bodies and behaviors for men and women?

Ask yourself

Did you play with Barbie, GI Joe or other similar toys when you were growing up? Do you think this had any effect on your ideas about male and female bodies or male and female roles?

Film picks

  • Jackson Katz (2000) Tough Guise
  • Jackson Katz (2002) Wrestling with Manhood
  • Susan Stern (1998) Barbie Nation

Reading Picks

  • Jacqueline Urla and Alan Swedlund (2004) Measuring up to Barbie: Ideals of the feminine body in popular culture. In Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective.
  • Jacqueline Urla and Alan Swedlund (1995) The anthropometry of Barbie: Unsettling ideals of the feminine body in popular culture.
  • Harrison G. Pope Jr., Katharine A. Phillips, and Roberto Olivardia (April 30, 2000) The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession.