A discussion of pop culture messages about masculinity, their
impact on boys, and the benefits of introducing more gender balance
to boys' lives.
When most people think about gender stereotypes and children,
they envision princesses, dolls, and pink clothing. Few consider
the warriors, muscle-bound action figures, and T-shirts covered in
graffiti and skulls that are assumed to signify masculinity.
The pop culture environment that surrounds boys introduces them
to a world where traditionally masculine traits-like toughness,
aggression, and stoicism-are highly esteemed and where female
influence is all but absent.
"The Achilles Effect" explores gender bias in the entertainment
aimed at primary school boys, focusing on the dominant themes in
children's TV shows, toy advertising, movies, and books: gender
stereotypes of both sexes, male dominance, negative portrayals of
fathers, breaking of the mother/son bond, and the devaluing of
femininity. It examines the gender messages sent by pop culture,
provides strategies for countering these messages, and encourages
discussion of a vitally important issue that is rarely talked
about-boys and their often skewed understanding of gender.
"The Achilles Effect" is a guide for parents, educators, and
students who want to learn more about male and female stereotypes,
their continued strong presence in kids' pop culture, and their
effect on young boys.
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