Toys as Role Models

1114 WordsSep 20, 20105 Pages
Toys as Role Models Judy Attfield, who holds a PhD in history and design, has written numerous articles in relation to design history. Her articles, often written in a formal and informative style, concentrate on parenting and family issues. Citing the differences in the maneuverability designs of Barbie and Action Man, which embody the stereotypical cliché of feminine passivity and masculine activity respectively, “Barbie and Action Man: Adult toys for girls and boys, 1959-93” (P. Kirkham (Ed.), The Gendered Object (80-89). Manchester: Manchester University Press) by Judy Attfield argues that children are not only able to subvert toy’s stereotypical meanings but also create fantasies of their own. Targeting the general public in…show more content…
In addition, Attfield failed to take into consideration the supporting role of parents in shaping gender notions among children through toys. Since children do not have the financial ability to purchase toys, the sales of Barbie and Action Man can be ascribed to their parents despite Attfield’s claim that parents disapprove of these toys (Attfield, 1996). Children may perceive this parental act of purchase as a sign of parental approval of the characteristics that the toys may contain. Children may then be influenced into thinking that Barbie and Action Man, with their projection of gender stereotypes, are desirable role models to follow. Another point that Attfield neglected is the role of the media in shaping a child’s understanding of gender differences. The media is a powerful medium of influence. It is an endless source of information that is easily accessible to people of all ages. Although no one can wholly determine that a child’s behaviour is derived from the media, it is clear that children learn by imitating people and the surroundings around them. Hence, we should not overlook the possibility that a child’s fantasy may stem from watching commercials and shows that are targeted at him. As a result of overlooking the influence of media, Attfield did little to explain the origins of a child’s fantasy, which may be a product of media rather than pure creativity. The
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