Constructionism In Barbie Doll

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Barbie is Undermining Female Individuality Burke's theory of performativity exposes gender constructionism as detrimental to female society in Marge Piercy’s poem, “Barbie Doll.” The poem’s dual purpose criticises and promotes awareness of gender positioning in a heteronormative society. Oppressive and deadly, conforming to traditional female gender roles is an unconscious act. The temporal storyline of the poem illustrates an increase in social pressure to conform to traditional female gender roles. From birth, until after death, society defines and reinforces gender expectations both passively and aggressively, through social conditioning by the use of toys and peer pressure. Shaped through social constructionism; gender roles indoctrinate,…show more content…
Little girls engage in activities that reinforce their intended gender roles through passive, repetitious, emulation of socially accepted roles. The typical childhood toys “dolls that pee pee…miniature GE stoves and irons,” symbolize feminine roles of motherhood, cooking, and laundry, within a patriarchal society. The choice of “Barbie Doll,” for the poem’s title connects the traditional little girl’s toy to the text reinforcing imagery and associations of appropriate female gender roles in an oppressive patriarchal society. The blond shapely doll, introduced as a childhood toy, is a personification of a traditionalist view of an ideal woman. She has all the external accoutrements; fashion, build, and looks that are valued in a patriarchal society. Toys used in play, strengthen social indoctrination of girls into traditional gender oppressive roles before they have an opportunity to make informed…show more content…
Social pressures shift and intensify from passive to active, peer pressure as girls enter adolescence. Biological and social instability reduce the ability to make informed individual choices. Socially acceptable appearance connects the characters self-induced physical changes to increased peer pressure and gender conformity. Cutting off “her nose and her legs” indicates extreme peer pressure and an active participation in an attempt to conform physically to established gender roles regardless of personal harm. In addition, physical and biological masculine qualities, ‘strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive, and manual dexterity,” diminish her femininity and contradict the constructed gender role. “Barbie Doll” emphasises that females have both masculine and feminine qualities; therefore, performing socially constructed gender roles oppresses individuality. Piercy advocates the ideological view, women who perform to meet socially constructed demands of femininity, “playing coy..., [appearing] hearty,” through excessive “exercise, diet, manipulation, and who smile and wheedle” will never be happy, in fact they will die trying to imitate socially constructed gender roles. Piercy exposes performance of femininity, as an enforced role that is oppressive and wears down individuality and

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