One big system.

July 24, 2007 at 4:50 pm (racism, sexism) ()

This Feministing post, in its criticism of the new interactive Barbie website, gives an excellent example of the intersection of the patriarchy and industrial capitalism.

As a kid, I loved Barbie because she wasn’t a baby doll — I had no interest in playing mommy. I used Barbie to act out how I wanted to be as an adult. My Barbie was a journalist. She wore men’s sweaters sometimes. She always drove the red convertible. In her spare time, she was the frontwoman of a rock band.

What didn’t she do? Go shopping. Sure, she had lots of fun outfits, but having her “purchase” more was never part of my play routine. When I searched for descriptions of what Barbie is actually set up to do in her popular new virtual world, every article I found only mentioned her ability to shop for stuff like “miniskirts, tiaras or home accessories.” In other words, training girls to grow up to be women who are first and foremost consumers.

A Barbie virtual world seems so much more pernicious than Barbie the 10-inch doll. It’s still got all the body- and beauty-standard issues that the old-school version has. But at least girls can more easily impose their own personalities and interests onto a doll. (emphasis mine)

Little girls’ toys (i.e. the “Disney Princess” phenomenon) provide some of the most obvious instances of this sort of intersection, in which girls are inundated with sexist and racist* images at the same time they’re taught to be good capitalist consumers.

*No matter how many sidekicks in how many colors Barbie gets, Barbie — the star of the show, the main attraction — will, of course, always have pale skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. And everybody can see the enormous flaws in Disney movies, right?

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