Gender and Culture in 1950
March 31, 2015
Ruth Handler was the 10th child of an immigrant family, and by 10 years old was already working at her sister’s business. Later on when she had kids, the idea for Barbie came from watching her daughter play with cut out dolls.i At this time only baby dolls were on the market and Handler wanted to create a three dimensional adult bodied doll for them to project their dreams on to. Handler pitcher the idea to Mattel who said it would be impossible. Later, while in Switzerland, Handler found a doll that looked exactly how she imagined. ii The only catch was that this doll was based on a German prostitute but this background didn’t stop Handler, as she now knew this idea was not impossible.iii Barbie challenged the concept of the feminine mystique by providing women with and outlet of self-expression to project themselves onto, by allowing women to realize that is okay to focus on their individuality, and by creating different themes empowering girls to discover a personalized career dream.
The symbolism of the doll that Handler created challenged the feminist mystique as it was in the image of a female adult you could grow up to be. This doll allowed girls to pretend to be whatever they wanted to. They began viewing their dolls as themselves. Girls wanted to transform in to the powerful woman that their dolls portrayed. In turn, the Barbie doll became the girl’s role model and they were able to fantasize about becoming her. They were able to set their sights on a career outside of their own home. They were pointed in the direction of self-actualization, and away from self-scarification. Most women had been sacrificing their own potential to occupy the role of housewife that the female gender was conditioned to inhabit.
As part of the feminine mystique, most women have a husband and a kid or multiple kids. Barbie has a boyfriend and no children which provides her with individuality and expressed to women that you do not need to be married with children. Women can be free in discovering their career goals, as well as in finding their future partner. Essentially Barbie tells girls that having a family does not have to be their first priority, and instead finding themselves should be. Most women are conditioned at a young age into aspiring to be mother and a wife. In doing…