Barbie Doll Themes

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Obedience

"Barbie Doll" symbolically describes the inherently destructive nature of patriarchy. A system of social organization in which male prerogative is the ruling principle, patriarchy demands women's obedience to men. Historically, this obedience has been externally manifest through law; for example, until the twentieth century women had been denied voting privileges in the United States. But patriarchy also exhibits its power through the shaping of mind and serf-image. A "good" woman is one who conforms to patriarchal expectations: she is feminine, domestic, pretty, and accommodating. When you are not these things, as the girlchild in Piercy's poem is not, you will be punished. Society will shun you, you will be judged a freak, and your own strengths (e.g., the girlchild's physical strength and intelligence) will appear to you as shortcomings because you will not be recognized for them. Piercy' s poem presents a girl of many talents who...

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This section contains 585 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Barbie Doll Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Barbie Doll from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.