THE SHOPPING ASSIGNMENT
Due: Thursday (10/28) Please note: I moved the due date (listed on the syllabus)
from 10/26 to 10/28.
Take a shopping trip to a mall, a neighborhood drug store, or a major discount store such
as Target. You are not required to buy anything on this trip but look for the following
- Barbie and Ken Dolls
- Bratz Dolls
NOTE: If for some reason you cannot go to a store see me for an alternative
Be sure to note the following when you are making your observations:
1. Pay attention to the following:
Jot down a description of the neighborhood the store was in. Jot down a
description of the type of customer the store attracts.
Did you find Latina, Asian, or Black Barbie dolls?
Were they the same (e.g., dress, occupation, special collection status) as White
How are Barbie dolls of color positioned on the shelves in relationship to White
Did you find Asian, Latino, or Black Ken or other male counterparts for Barbie?
Were they the same as White Ken or other male dolls?
How is Ken or other male dolls displayed in relationship to Barbie?
What kind of jobs does Barbie hold? How about Ken?
What message does Barbie convey about beauty?
What message does Barbie convey about social difference?
What message does Barbie convey about women’s roles?
How is race represented among Bratz dolls?
Are there male Bratz dolls? How are the dolls positioned in relationship to one
What message do Bratz dolls convey about social difference?
What message do Bratz dolls convey about beauty?
What message do Bratz dolls convey about women’s roles?
INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR WRITE UP:
Write a brief (two to two-and-one-half page, typed, double spaced) analysis of your
findings. The analysis should include the following:
1. Briefly summarize your observations. Use a short paragraph to describe
your observations (e.g., the number of dolls by race; the positioning of the
dolls; the neighborhood the store was in)
2. Now analyze your findings in relationship to the course readings. Feel
free to draw on any of the readings, but you must cite Andersen Ch. 3 and
revisit McIntosh, “White Privilege….” Hill Collins, “Mammies,
Matriarchs, and Other Controlling Images” would also be a very useful
lens through which to analyze your findings.
Identify if, and how, your findings link to our readings and class
discussions on gender (e.g., the social construction of gender, gender and
popular culture, and gender and race). For instance, can you apply the
concepts “center and margin” and "privilege and invisibility" in the
McIntosh reading to your observations of Barbie and Ken. What role does
Barbie play in gender socialization. For instance, what message does
Barbie send to little girls? What is Ken’s role? Do Bratz dolls differ from
Barbie? Do they send a different message about gender? Do they send a
different message about racial diversity and beauty? In your opinion, do
the Bratz dolls represent a more “progressive” view of gender and of
gender and social difference?
2. Conclude your essay with a brief discussion of your personal reaction to
the assignment. As a woman, how did this assignment make you feel? As
a man, how did this assignment make you feel? As a white person, how
did this assignment make you feel? As a person of color, how did this
assignment make you feel? As a gay man or lesbian woman, how did this
assignment make you feel? As a heterosexual, how did this assignment
make you feel? Did this assignment help to highlight the course readings?
YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DISCUSS YOUR PERSONAL
REACTION IF YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE DOING SO. I will not
grade down if you choose to skip this part.