Thursday, August 5, 2010

Patriarchal Values in Toy Kitchen Advertisements



The other day, I went shopping to buy a toy kitchen for my friend’s daughter, Daphne, as a gift.  I came across the brand KidKraft that had a wide variety of kitchens in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Although there were a wide variety of kitchens, an overwhelming majority of the advertisements displayed girls modeling the product.  By having toy kitchen advertisements that display primarily girls, it socializes kids from a young age to believe that a woman’s role is primarily in the kitchen. Therefore, I argue through advertisements that KidKraft socializes girls to believe in patriarchal values, which puts emphasis on their role in the kitchen.

It is important to understand the messages that KidKraft advertisements send to children because they are going through socialization.  Part of the way children learn who they are is by following images in their surroundings. Due to marketing strategy, it has become more common for children to develop identities based upon what they see in advertisements.  In the article “Image- Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture” Sut Jhally says that, because of marketing strategy, “Imaginative play has shifted one degree closer to mere imitation and assimilation” (254). If children are constantly seeing toy kitchen advertisements where there are primarily girls, they will think that only girls should play in kitchens. By only girls playing in kitchens, it teaches them at a young age that girls ought to be housewives.

At the same time, by promoting patriarchal values, the KidKraft advertisements effect how girls are going to interact with boys and, later, men.  In the article “Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study,” Pat Kirkham and Alex Weller said, “[Advertisements] translate statements about gendered objects into gender statements about a variety of things including types of consumer behaviour and human relationships” (269). Girls are not going to want to play with boys in a toy kitchen because it is not a common image.  Instead they are going to believe that they should be playing in the kitchen while the boys are doing a separate activity.  As girls grow into women, it will influence them to believe that they should be at home cooking while their husband has an executive job at an office. Therefore, KidKraft teaches girls patriarchal values from a young age through an emphasis on their role in the kitchen.



 Works Cited
“53100-1.” JPEG File. < http://www.kidkraft.com/toys-and playsets / kitchens /kitchens / 53100>

“53139-1.” JPEG File.  < http://www.kidkraft.com/toys-and-playsets/kitchens/kitchens/53139>

“53160-1.” JPEG File. < http://elegantchildboca.com/toys>

“53170-1.” JPEG File. < http://www.kidkraft.com/toys-and-playsets/kitchens/kitchens/53170>

“53181-1_copy2” JPEG File. < http://www.kidkraft.com/toys-and-playsets/kitchens/kitchens/53181>

“53185-12.” JPEG File. < http://www.kidkraft.com/toys-and-playsets/kitchens/kitchens/53185>

 “KidKraft Grand Gourmet Kitchen.” Amazon.com. amazon. nd. Web. 5 August 2010.< http://www.amazon.com/KidKraft-Grand-Gourmet-Corner-Kitchen/dp/B002OE01XG>

“Prairie.” JPEG File. < http://toykitchen.eu.com/>

Jhally, Sut. “Image Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text- Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 249-257. Print.

KidKraft. “KidKraft 53179 Pink Vintage Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

Kidkraft. “KidKraft Cook Together Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “KidKraft Deluxe Big and Bright Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

Kidkraft. “Kidkraft Deluxe Let’s Cook Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

Kidkraft.  “KidKraft Grand Gourmet Corner Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. web. N.d. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “KidKraft Island Kitchen – Pastel.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

Kidkraft. “KidKraft Large Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “Kidkraft Pink Wooden Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d.
web. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “KidKraft Red Gourmet Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “KidKraft Red Vintage Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

Kidkraft. “Kidkraft Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator in Pink.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “KidKraft Ultimate Girls Wooden Play Kitchen.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

KidKraft. “KidKraft® Red Retro Kitchen Center.” Photograph. Amazon.com. amazon. N.d. web. 5 August 2010.

Kirkham, Pat and Alex Weller. “Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text- Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 268-273. Print.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Miley's Been Tamed: Blog Post 3

Miley Cyrus- Can't Be Tamed
video

This student-created production is covered under the Fair Use codes US copyright law. Specifically, Section 107 of the current Copyright Act and Section 504(c)(2) cover the educational-basis of this video production. The production is intended to be a transformative remake, aiding in both student and public media literacy.  The use of copyrighted material is in the service of constructing a differing understanding than the original work, which according to Section 110 (1) (2), is to be treated as a new cultural production. This student-production is in no way limited to the protections provided by the Fair Use codes stated above due to the many other sections of the current US Copyright Act, which also include the principles of Fair Use.

Please refer to Fair Use principles when re-posting, quoting, and/or excerpting the video-production posted here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blog Post 3. Option A. California Gurls

\This student-created production is covered under the Fair Use codes US copyright law. Specifically, Section 107 of the current Copyright Act and Section 504(c)(2) cover the educational-basis of this video production. The production is intended to be a transformative remake, aiding in both student and public media literacy. The use of copyrighted material is in the service of constructing a differing understanding than the original work, which according to Section 110 (1) (2), is to be treated as a new cultural production. This student-production is in no way limited to the protections provided by the Fair Use codes stated above due to the many other sections of the current US Copyright Act, which also include the principles of Fair Use.

Please refer to Fair Use principles when re-posting, quoting, and/or excerpting the video-production posted here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blog Post 2: Exploring Masculinity Through the Character of Barney on How I Met Your Mother


“The Fight,” an episode from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, addresses many ideas concerning what it means to be a man in today’s society.  The episode explores values such as aggressiveness that are associated with being masculine.  At the same time it causes the viewer to question what it means to be either a homo- or heterosexual in today’s society. Barney demonstrates that being a man means having a strong heterosexual sex drive along with being aggressive; at the same time he demonstrates that the line between hetero- and homosexual behavior is ambiguous.

A common theme in the episode and the sitcom is the goal of Barney to have sex with many beautiful women.  Barney’s sexual drive is part of his masculinity.  He believes he proves his masculinity by having sex with many beautiful women. However, his definition of masculinity is not surprising.  Instead, he is conforming to a common notion present in today’s society.  There is no derogatory term used to describe a male who has many sexual partners, but if he were a female he would be called a slut or a whore.  He proves his masculinity through his sexual appetite.

However, it is not just in a sitcom such as How I Met Your Mother that demonstrates the idea that men prove their masculinity through having sex with multiple women.  In the article “The Beauty Myth,” the author, Naomi Wolf, demonstrates this concept when she says, “The quality called ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists.  Women must want to embody it and men must want to posses women who embody it,”(121). Barney demonstrates the pertinence of this quote.  Barney tries to possess women by having sex with them. According to both Barney and today’s society, to be considered a man, one needs to be a heterosexual male that has multiple sexual partners. 

Therefore, the question arises how does Barney try to attract women.  His ideas are formulated based upon values found in a patriarchal society. To best understand how he is affected by a patriarchal society, it is important to understand the basis of patriarchy.  Allan Johnson defines patriarchy as, “…a kind of society organized around certain kinds of social relationships and ideas,”(93). The social relationships and ideas include an emphasis upon the “gender dichotomy” of male toughness and female’s docile nature.

The dichotomy is explored in the episode of How I Met Your Mother.  In the beginning of the episode, Barney did not believe being aggressive proved that he was a man.  He actually attempted to discourage his friend, Ted, from going to fight.  However, after Robin, a woman he considers to be attractive, explains how sexy aggressive men are he goes to participate in the fight.  Barney’s change emphasizes the idea that, in a patriarchal society, masculinity is often derived from aggressiveness and toughness.  If one is not willing to fight, they are not considered to be masculine and, by extension, not considered to be attractive.  Because Barney wants to be attractive to many women, he needs to become more aggressive.

Johnson helps to explore Barney’s experience of having to be tough.  Allan Johnson says, “It’s about defining women and men as opposites, about the ‘naturalness’ of male aggression, competition, and dominance and of female caring, cooperation, and subordination,”(94).  Here Barney learns that, to be considered a man, he needs to be able to fight and prove that he is aggressive.

However, Barney is an ironic character.  He emphasizes his heterosexuality by having sex with and objectifying many women.  At the same time he has characteristics that are considered to be homosexual. Barney is able to portray a character that demonstrates that the line between heterosexuality and homosexuality is both subjective and changes based upon a person’s own views.

The best way to understand this concept is to explore a certain scene in the episode where the question arises. Towards the end of the episode, his friend, Marshall, makes a comment about the fact that he gets a manicure and pedicure once a month makes him a “wuss.”  Barney then nonchalantly retorts, “Weekly, Wolverine. Some of us care”(The Fight). For Barney, the fact that he gets his nails done does not make him less of a man.  He still feels that he is masculine.  However, for Marshall and the audience watching, it did affect their opinion of his masculinity.  This is demonstrated by the fact that a laugh track is played after Barney’s comment, and Marshall calls him a “wuss.” 

However, the ambiguity between hetero- and homosexual behavior is a common idea.  It is particularly used in sitcoms to generate humor.  Diane Raymond explores the idea when she says, “Again, this trope [heterosexual men with gay mannerisms] might serve to undermine essentialist notions of a clear boundary between hetero- and homosexual identity.  Indeed, part of the humor in these episodes is that the heterosexual character’s mannerisms come to be recoded as queer,”(108). Barney believes that, to be masculine, one should be concerned with the appearance of their nails.  However, this is not a common belief throughout society, which demonstrates the ambiguity of sexual identity. 

Barney’s confidence about his maleness demonstrates that masculinity is based upon one’s own idea.  However, because he lives in a patriarchal society it forces him to question certain aspects of his masculinity.  Therefore, he chooses to participate in a fight to try to maintain his masculinity and continue to attract women.  At the same time, he is able to be confident in his homosexual mannerisms because he defines masculinity differently than the majority of people.  Overall, Barney provides an interesting lens in which to examine the meaning of masculinity in today’s society.

            Works Cited

Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy, The System An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.” Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. Ed. Estelle Disch. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2008. 91-99. Print.

Raymond, Diane. “Popular Culture and Queer Representation: A Critical Perspective.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text- Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 98-110. Print.

“The Fight.” How I Met Your Mother:The Legendary Season 4. 20th Century Fox, 2009.DVD.

Wolf, Naomi. “The Beauty Myth.” Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology. Eds. Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair, and Nancy Schniedewind. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2006. 120- 125. Print.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Brainstorming and Link-hunt assignment

 'Eclipse':Shrewdly Retro or Just Backward? You Decide!
 July 2, 2010
http://movie-critics.ew.com/2010/07/02/eclipse-retro-or-just-backward/
Owen Gleiberman
ew.com

The One With The Feminist Critique: A Closer Look At Rachel Green’s Character
April 25, 2008
http://wmst2010.blogspot.com/2008/04/goldin-media-analysis.html
marleykg
blogspot.com

Harry Potter: The Verdict Is In 
August 10, 2007
http://thefemaledissenter.blogspot.com/2007/08/harry-potter-verdict-is-in.html
Leyna
blogspot.com

Third Time Still Not the Charm for Toy Story's Female Characters 
June 24, 2010
http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/06/24/third-time-still-not-the-charm-for-toy-storys-female-characters/
Natalie Wilson
msmagazine.com

Gender Disciplining in Scrubs
April 25, 2008
http://wmst2010.blogspot.com/2008/04/gender-disciplining-in-scrubs.html