Tag Archives: fantasy

Imaginative play with unrealistic dolls is bad for girls. Imaginative play with unrealistic dolls is …. what for boys? Boys? Ha ha! Since when do they matter?

3 Jul

Poor, poor Barbie. She just cannot catch a break.  She’s just too….. Barbie.  Her hair is too long, her eyes are too big, her waist is too waspish, her legs are too slim, her thighs are too small, her breasts are too perky (and too damn big!), her ass is too high and her weird feet, all curved and ready for stilettos.

barbie

Bad Barbie!  Wrong body, wrong choice, you traitor!

Personally, I was never a fan of Barbie, since I found her uncomfortable to sleep with.  I preferred rag dolls, who are nice and soft and cozy and cuddly.  Raggedy Anne was my particular favorite:

anne

Look at her head!  Jesus that’s a big head. And those eyes!  That hair!  And shoes dyed right on the fabric of her feet!  Ridiculous.  And what is up with that apron?  Well, now we know why I spend so much time wearing an apron and bustling in my kitchen.  It’s Raggedy Anne’s fault!  Her perfect curly locks that are impossible to muss didn’t rub off on me, but hey, we can’t have everything!

holly

Here is Holly Hobby.  Another one of my faves.  And she is totally in proportion to a real, natural, average human, isn’t she?  Her head is wider than her hips! That bonnet.  It kills me. I had a sun bonnet when I was a little girl.  Robin’s egg blue. I loved it.  I guess I have Holly to thank for my skin? No sun damage!  Bonnets are a girl’s best friend.

sunbonnett

Of course, when I played with my rag dolls, I was always the Mommy. They were my babies, and that is the big difference between dolls and Barbie dolls:  dolls inspire nurturing play.  Barbie dolls inspire aspirational play. You aren’t Barbie’s mommy – you are either Barbie or one of her friends.

friends

And that’s where the criticism comes in:  Barbie dolls are bad for girls because they present unrealistic, unattainable body images that girls are expected to internalize.  An artist named Eddi Aguirre took off all of Barbie’s makeup to show just what a tarted up little whore she is, with fairly grotesque results.

no makeup

http://boingboing.net/2013/04/15/barbie-without-makeup.html

Aguirre’s critique fell a little short, since women can, and DO use make-up to dramatically alter their looks.  Almost all women enhance their natural beauty with cosmetics, but some women go full spackle, and the effect is rather astonishing.  Here are some before and after pics of adult film stars, using make-up to go from Brunhilde to Barbie.

porn 3

porn 2

porn 1

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/porn-stars-without-make-up_n_3379731.html

Does playing with Barbies influence women in their decision about how much and what kind of make-up to wear?  That is the theory, and the source of anxiety.  We’ll come back to this in a bit.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/11/artist-creates-barbie-doll_n_3060626.html

Another artist named Nikolay Lam plays with Barbies a lot, and he alters them to show just how different Barbie is from the average American woman. Here is Barbie compared to the average 19 year old American woman.  Barbie is short, squat and has a big ass.  She is still wearing a crap-ton of make-up.

fat barbie

Barbie’s measurements:

Height: 5’9

Weight: 110 lbs

Bust: 39 inches

Waist: 18 inches

Hips: 33 inches

Shoe size: 3

BMI: 16.24

Average 19 year old American woman:

Height: 5’4

Weight: 140 lbs

Bust: 32 inches

Waist: 31 inches

Hips: 33  inches

Shoe size: 7

BMI: 24.0

real-life-barbie-21-665x385

Obviously, Barbie is waaaaaaay out of proportion to the average 19 year old woman, but there are two important things to consider:  1) the average 19 year old is just on the verge of being clinically overweight and 2) who cares if Barbie is out of proportion?

Rather than assume Barbie is some dastardly plot by the capitalist patriarchy to make little girls feel really shitty about themselves, let’s start with the assumption that Barbie looks the way she does because that is what SELLS. Barbie appeals to little girls almost universally.  Why is that?

smarties

If you go down to page 9 on this report, you will see that children are not born with a natural sense of proportion.  They can tell that one pile of Smarties is bigger than another, but it takes a while until they realize which pile is TWICE as big.  Proportions must be learned.  Five year olds are not great at detecting proportions.  By the time they are in the second grade, most of them have it figured out.

http://www.gse.uci.edu/docs/Matthews_precis_and_background.pdf

So there is one thing:  small children are not great at sensing proportions.

Now, let’s consider what proportions humans find particularly appealing.

baby

frog

kitten

SQUEE!  Whether it’s a human being, a baby frog or a kitten, we are hypnotically drawn towards creatures that have huge heads, giant eyes, chubby cheeks, short limbs, and dramatically different proportions from what they will become.

http://www.livescience.com/19108-baby-love-human-brain.html

When those two things are combined, isn’t it obvious why little girls love Barbie?  She has proportions they can easily detect and she appeals to the instincts that make us love babies with her huge eyes enhanced with make-up to look even bigger and her giant, baby-proportioned head.

I’ll just wait here for my Nobel Prize in Neuroscience.  Jeez, I am racking up the Nobels, aren’t’ I?

There is NOTHING nefarious or wicked about Barbie and she does NOT encourage poor body image in little girls because little girls can’t detect that there is anything amiss with Barbie’s body!  She’s just a pretty woman who can do and be just about anything!

doctor

dentist

astronaut

And clever little vixens can easily circumvent Barbie’s corporate limitations with their imaginations.  Barbie really can do ANYTHING!  There is nothing wrong with encouraging little children to set their imaginations free and believe that unicorns are real and mermaids are your friend. Life will kick in soon enough.

construction

Grown women who believe they can do and be anything are a different story.  Stuck in perpetual toddlerhood, they fail to see that wishing for a unicorn that farts rainbows will not make it so.  A different story altogether.

Let’s turn our attention to boys now.  Where is all the teeth-gnashing and despair about the unrealistic body images little boys are confronted with when they play with boy Barbies, also known as “action figures”?

batman

Batman has a body that represents normal human males? Really?

Batman measurements:

Height:  7 ft

Waist:  30 inches

Chest: 57 inches

Biceps: 27 inches

7 foot tall human

(already extraordinary, but it can happen):

Height: 7 ft

Waist: 30 inches

Chest: 37 inches

Biceps: 12 inches

http://www.johnriviello.com/bodyimage/dolls.html

gi

GI Joe? Oh yeah, he’s pretty realistic. Hey, did you hear the one about the little girl who asks Santa for a Barbie and GI Joe?  Santa says, “but little girl, Barbie comes with Ken.”  “Nope,” says the little girl, “she hangs out with Ken, but she only comes with GI Joe.”

giggles

For the same reason that little girls like Barbie and her weird proportions, little boys like Batman and GI Joe.  We won’t even get into Stretch Armstrong.  If playing with dolls affects body perceptions so much, what are we to make of Stretch’s abilities?

???????????????????????

Poor little boys, crushed by the fact they can’t slamdunk with their 8 foot arms.  That would make basketball a whole new sport, wouldn’t it?

Again, GI Joe is an aspirational toy:  little boys don’t imagine they are GI Joe’s Daddy –they imagine they are one of his comrades or GI Joe himself.  And funny, they don’t seem to be crippled with body anxiety on account of playing with their 57 inch chest buddies.

True story:  I decided to be a really progressive parent and encourage my son’s nurturing side by buying him his very own dolly. LittleDude named him Steve.

photo

The most frequent game involved placing Steve as high up in a bush or the lilac trees as LittleDude could reach and then congratulating Steve on how well he could climb.  “Good job, Buddy!  Look at you! Look how high you are!” LittleDude would encourage Steve to be brave and jump! He would then shake the tree violently until Steve was dislodged and attempt to catch him midair.

boy doll

Sadly, Steve suffered some fairly serious head injuries and spent a lot of time bandaged up in a shoebox, and we are not optimistic about his future prospects.  So much for progressive parenting.  LittleDude still has Steve but he mostly just throws him in the air and catches him.  LittleDude’s eventual children better have strong stomachs.

Children engage in imaginative play in a way a lot of adults seem to have forgotten.  They don’t really notice ridiculous proportions and those sparkling moments when they believe everything and anything is possible are actually one of the most wonderful things about children.

superman

Little boy:  Mommy, when I grow up I want to be Superman!

What kind of killjoy shatters a fantasy like that?  Life will teach him soon enough that there is no Superman and he can only grow up to be who he is.  We don’t encourage little boys to weep tears of self-pity and huddle in a corner when they realize that 26 inch biceps are not really possible.  We encourage our sons to take the best that Superman has to offer and remember their childhood dreams fondly.

barbie girl

Little girl:  Mommy, when I grow up I want to be Barbie!

Why can’t we do the same for Barbie?

Because our current cultural climate doesn’t encourage women to let go of their childhood fantasies and face reality.  Little girls are not supposed to look back on their childhood dreams and cherish the best of them.  They are supposed to continue on through life in a state of perpetual denial and immaturity.

unicorn

Barbie can be anything?  So can you, honey!

No, you can’t. Be realistic.

Barbie is tall and pretty and blonde and perfectly made-up?  You can be too, honey!

No you can’t, unless of course you ARE tall, blonde and pretty. Oh, and white.  Don’t forget white.

Barbie is a caricature.  Be a real person.

Barbie has everything and shoes to match?  So can you, honey!

No you can’t.  Material wealth isn’t even that important anyways.  Be practical.

Screaming about the lack of realism in Barbie is really a metaphor for screaming about how unrealistically most women approach life and living and most of all, their own abilities and talents.  Barbie’s LACK of realism is exactly what makes her so compelling.  She cannot be what she appears to be.  The lack of reality in Barbie’s body and proportions asks us to confront our own flaws and delusions. What things do we THINK we can do, but really CAN’T?  Barbie’s dishonesty is so unambiguous that it’s hard for us to look at her and not see our own dishonesty.

anakin

This is pretty philosophical, but not without precedent.  Confronting flawed humans in art and literature and music and poetry and theatre is all about connecting us to ourselves as flawed, and thinking about ways in which we might be better.

http://psychologyinfilm.weebly.com/the-flawed-hero.html

Average Barbie takes a girl’s imagination and tells her that she is already perfect.  Average is perfect.  Average is enough.  You are enough, as you are.  No need to work or improve or strive.  Everyone else can just suck it if they don’t like who you are.

You’re faultless.  And your toys should be, too.

I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but the idea that women are perfect the way they are denies that women are capable of rational assessment of their own flaws, denies that women are capable of accurate self-assessment, denies that women can confront imperfect images and practice introspection, denies that women have the capacity for critical, intelligent thought.

And that is just garbage.  Bring me my GI Joes and my Barbies and every other magical, impossible artifact of my childhood. They promised the world, and delivered the truth.  And the truth, as they say, is what sets you free.

Don’t destroy the enchantments of childhood.  Keep your hands off Barbie.  Unless you plan on swapping that lab coat for a ballgown!

ballgown

Barbie can be anything!  I can’t.  You can’t. No one can.

And honestly, who wants to be everything?  That seems like a lot of work.

Lots of love,

JB

I have sexual fantasies about random men all the time. Apparently, that’s really bad. Some dude wants to punch me in the face because I THINK about sex with men. WTF?

22 Jun

(Some images may be NSFW)

I’m a happily married stay-at-home mother.  I like men.  Sometimes I fantasize about random men I meet on the street.  Do I really have to stop doing that?

Just yesterday, I could see the traffic piling up as I cruised down the sidewalk, and there he was.  Maybe 25? He was directing traffic in a bullet-proof vest (I have no idea why – we really don’t have a lot of violent crime in this town), wearing a short sleeved blue uniform that fit everywhere it touched, and those biceps! It wasn’t hard to imagine them wrapped around me.

Oh god.

police

And the kid who works in the produce section?  Oh my!  Okay, he can’t be more than 17, but his body is just smoking hot and the apron!  The apron kills me.  I picture him standing there with nothing but an apron.  The produce section gets pretty warm!

apron

Yeah, he’s underage, but all I’m doing is thinking, for Christ’s sake.  Is that really a crime? I’m not going to do anything!  I’m happily married and I’m pretty sure that rippling 17 year old has no idea what three children do to a woman’s body and even if he did, so what?

It’s just fantasy.  Harmless, right?  And to my understanding, pretty normal.  Doesn’t everyone have sexual fantasies about all the various attractive people they see on a day to day basis?  It’s a nice source of energy that I take home and spend on the man I’m certain other women (and some men) undress in their minds on a regular basis.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334832/Womens-sexual-desire-just-strong-ravenous-mens-claims-explosive-new-book.html

No biggie.

Well, apparently, some guy writing at New York Mag thinks women like me are vile, disgusting creatures who should be deeply ashamed of ever admitting to such revolting thoughts. And not just that, he wants to physically HURT me for daring to express what he considers illicit, shameful, dirty desire.

Deep in the testosterone soaked recesses of my male imagination, I fantasize about tearing these women limb from limb.

I am fantasizing about snapping their fingers, one by one.

If I had more respect for women, I might indulge my fantasy about punching one of them in the gut so hard that she doubles over in pain for a moment.

punching bag

I kind of don’t understand that last sentence.  More respect = punching in the gut?  Guess I’m glad that guy doesn’t have more respect then. What really pisses him off is that in expressing my completely and utterly NORMAL fantasies that I have no intention of acting on, I’m encouraging other women to share in my imagination, and that’s horribly oppressive for men.

Because objectification.

I would just shut up. I might indulge my fantasy a bit with my friends — just to blow off steam — but I would not use my guilt over wanting to punch women in the face as an excuse to indulge my face-punching fantasies. I would have enough self-awareness to stop myself.

Isn’t there a pretty huge difference between imagining making love to someone (I don’t imagine raping these men – they’re all enthusiastic participants in my little momentary indulgences)  and imagining punching them in the face?  Dude, you SHOULD feel guilty for wanting to punch women in the face for having sexual thoughts.  That’s bizarre and disturbing and why do you care what I think anyways?

The heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart wants violence.

Seriously, I’m concerned for this man’s mental health.  Okay, I get that it might be a bit disconcerting for men to realize that just the simple act of leaving the house can result in women lusting quietly in their minds for your body, and you as a person probably doesn’t play a huge role in the fantasy, because A) it’s a fantasy!; and B) I don’t know you.

Maybe that plays into our whole notion of men as mere utilities, but I’m not thinking about raiding your pants for your wallet!

Sure, I may want to throw women with filthy minds into a tank full of hungry sharks, but in fact I’m just going to write this blog post, smile patronizingly, and let it all be. Violent rage is the background music every time you read a troll-baiting article on the Internet.

I’m not sure what part of simply acknowledging that I have sexual fantasies about men is troll-baiting, and I find it disturbing that violent rage is this man’s reaction. Maybe he has had some really bad experiences with women who just used him for his body?  Maybe he gave up sex quickly in the hopes of having a relationship and got burned over and over again?  I don’t know, but admitting that I have naughty thoughts about barely legal boys whom I do not know and whom I have no intention of pursuing ever, under any circumstances doesn’t seem to me to be the sort of admission that warrants a death sentence by sharks.

Maybe that’s just me?

Violence is bad. Don’t act violently toward sexually prurient women. And don’t feel bad about being horny, ladies. It happens. Just keep it to yourself.

Oh, I see. At the end of the day, you really do understand that fantasizing about snapping my fingers or punching me or murdering me is bad, and you are equating that to normal, healthy sexual desire that happens in my MIND?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/201112/how-often-do-men-and-women-think-about-sex

You just want me to shut up and never express that desire.  Let shame silence me.  The normal reactions of my ordinary brain are completely revolting to you and you want me and my desire to just fuck off.

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/embrace-life/relationships/is-it-healthy-to-fantasize-about-fifty-shades-of-grey

Well, sorry dude, but I think you are seriously fucked up and you have a bad case of hating women.  The violence you would like to do to me makes me really question your sanity.  They’re just thoughts and it’s totally normal for human to have sexual fantasies about other humans.

This is just the kind of description of violence against women that the new Facebook policy is designed to address, no?

http://judgybitch.com/2013/06/06/awwww-facebook-doesnt-wike-us-boo-hoo-go-fuck-yourself-facebook-what-a-pack-of-raging-hypocrites/

And if a man really HAD written all those things about punching women and breaking their bones, you can be damn sure Facebook would tear it down instantly.  Actually, they wouldn’t have to, because New York Mag would never have published it in the first place.

But, oh look.  It wasn’t a woman expressing her sexual desire that never leaves the contours of her imagination:  it was a man.  His name is Andy Hinds.  He’s all twisted up about whether he can be a good feminist and still imagine fucking the ladies at his yoga class.  Imagine fucking.  Not actually fucking.  Just thinking.

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/05/stay_at_home_dad_sexual_fantasies_why_i_d_like_to_stop.single.html

And it wasn’t a man who responded with complete and utter disgust to the idea that normal humans have sexual fantasies, it was a woman.  Her name is Maureen O’Connor, and yes, she wrote about punching Andy and snapping his fingers and compared her desire to visit real, actual harm on him to his THOUGHTS about sex.

If he can think about sex, why can’t she think about bones breaking and sharks tearing into human flesh?

shark

http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/05/violent-thoughts-about-a-man-how-can-i-stop.html

Here’s why, you stupid cow:  Murder is a crime.  Thinking about sex is not.

Keep it to yourself, she writes.  Because male sexuality (which is pretty damn similar to female sexuality in terms of fantasies and desires) offends her to the core.  Maureen despises men who think about women in sexual terms.

This is the image that heads her piece:

gun

No joke.

This is Maureen.  She’s a pleasant enough looking woman. Kinda geeky and nerdy.   What the fuck is her problem with men?

maureen

Here’s my theory:  Andy played a neat little trick on the feminist ladies by claiming to be one of them and a man at the same time.  He slipped his neck into the feminist noose and then cracked open his brain to admit when he sees women, he wants to fuck them.

Ergo, he’s still a man.

And that’s unacceptable.

Could it be more clear?  Feminism isn’t about social or political or economic equality for women (that was achieved long ago).  It’s about eradication, and what cannot be exterminated will be silenced.

silenced

I think Maureen should take her own advice:  her fantasies about breaking and maiming and murdering men are instructive, but there is danger in painting such a clear picture of what her ideology is really about.

Keep it to yourself.  The truth has a tendency to set people free.  I hope Andy Hinds is the first one to realize he is advocating for an ideology that can really only be described a hate movement.  And I hope he goes to yoga class today and imagines every single one of the ladies naked and sweaty and underneath him.

You can bet your ass that a few of the ladies will be thinking the same thing about him.

And why not?

marilyn

Sex is a part of nature. I go along with nature.

Marilyn Monroe

Me too, Marilyn!  Me too.

Lots of love,

JB

%d bloggers like this: