Lesson 5 - We have all heard the critiques of that tall,...

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We have all heard the critiques of that tall, blond, thin icon known as Barbie . And while we may chuckle at Barbie's unrealistic body type or her painted-on smile, we may not realize that in all of her plastic glory, Barbie sends a variety of subtle messages to young girls. Consider for a moment the Barbie Liberation Organization . A while ago, Mattel came out with a new Teen Talk Barbie who giggled: "Math is hard!" "I love shopping!" and "Will we ever have enough clothes?" Conveniently, the Talking Duke G.I. Joe doll, or ummm, “action figure†had just been released. Inventive people around the country loosely formed the Barbie Liberation Organization and embarked on what they called a stereotype change operation—switching the voice boxes of the two dolls before repackaging and returning them to the stores. The surgically enhanced Barbie now shouted, "Vengeance is mine!" and G.I. Joe suggested, "Let's plan our dream wedding." The myriad messages that children receive from toys, media and parents quickly teach kids what it means to be a woman and a man in today's society. One way that gendered expectations are transmitted to children is through socialization. Socialization is the process by which a society's values and norms, including those pertaining to gender, are taught and learned. It is a life-long process that is sometimes overt and conscious and at other times is subtler. Gender messages start young (think of those newborns wrapped in pink or blue blankies!) and come from a variety of sources including the obvious ones that can be seen in children's media as well as the more subtle ones, such as children's clothing (clothing article- sex roles) and toys . How effective is gender socialization? Well, by the age of 2 kids are aware of their own and others' gender and by the age of 3 they begin to identify specific traits and behaviors in gender-stereotyped ways. So it's obvious that children are presented with gender messages very early, but how do they come to adopt this info as part of their images of themselves and their understanding of the world around them? Children seem to recognize gender categories because they are surrounded by messages that reinforce gender differences and society reinforces gender polarization in a variety of ways. Men and women in the society are considered fundamentally different from one another, and we have organized our entire society around these differences. And this may help explain young children's strong preferences for sex-typed toys and
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Lesson 5 - We have all heard the critiques of that tall,...

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