Quote of the day from Lori Rotskoff:
In the early 1970s, when role models for girls in male-dominated professions were sorely lacking, proponents of gender equality successfully lobbied toy makers and educational publishers to design products depicting diverse career options for girls. They strongly believed that early play experiences would make a difference in kids’ future aspirations. So they worked actively to shape the material culture of childhood.
Back then, Barbie was so anathema to feminists that it would never have occurred to them to collaborate with Mattel. But times have changed. Over the past three decades, commercial toymakers have perfected their absorption and co-optation of liberal feminist ideals; Barbie’s latest career makeover is just one recent example. So today, many women’s groups are apt to adopt the strategy: “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” We can interpret these Barbie dolls as “compromise formations” (to use an old grad-school phrase) because they represent an uneasy combination of traditionally feminine beauty standards with forward-thinking advocacy to enhance women’s economic and professional status.