Emily Prager- “Our Barbies, Ourselves”
Questions on Meaning
1. Why does Prager say that “suddenly a lot of things made sense” when she discovered that Barbie was designed by a man? Is she referring here only to Barbie’s looks?
2. Are we supposed to believe the claims Prager makes in paragraph 4? What is the point she is trying to make?
3. What is Prager’s definition of a feminist in this essay? Where do you find this definition?
4. What is Prager’s thesis?
Questions on Writing Strategy
1. What elements of Barbie does Prager’s analysis identify? What new picture of the doll does Prager arrive at as a result?
2. Prager refers to four famous women by name. What does each reference suggest? What is the effect of her using these famous names?
3. Prager poses several rhetorical questions, such as “Could this account for the popularity of breast implant surgery?” (3), “Or is Barbie the dream date of weapons designers?” (5), and “Why…was Barbie designed with such obvious sexual equipment and Ken not?” (7). What is the purpose of these rhetorical questions?
4. In her last paragraph Prager compares and contrasts the ways the toy company depicted the sexuality of Barbie and Ken. What are the differences? What ideas of cause and effect emerge from the comparison?
Questions on Language
1. Prager notes that Barbie is a product of a time when “small breasts were king” (5). What is the significance of the word king in this context?
2. Why does Prager call Barbie ‘masculine’ in paragraph 5? Does this description contradict Prager’s view of Barbie as an unattainable and inappropriate feminine ideal?
3. Prager describes dolls’ boyfriends before Barbie’s Ken as “figments with large portfolios and three-piece suits and presidential aspirations” (6). What are the connotations of this description?
Brief Journal Response
While growing up did you play with Barbie or another type of doll- for instance, baby dolls, action figures like GI Joe,...
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