Naked Barbies, Warrior Joes, and Other Forms of Visible Gender

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University of Illinois Press, 2003 - Social Science - 216 pages
In this folkloric examination of mass-produced material culture in the United States, Jeannie Banks Thomas examines the gendered sculptural forms that are among the most visible, including Barbie, Ken, and G.I. Joe dolls; yard figures (gnomes, geese, and flamingos); and cemetery statuary (angels, sports-related images, figures of the Virgin Mary, soldiers, and politicians).

Images of females are often emphasized or sexualized, frequently through nudity or partial nudity, whereas those of the male body are not only clothed but also armored in the trappings of action and aggression. Thomas locates these various objects of folk art within a discussion of the post-women's movement discourse on gender.

In addition to the items themselves, Thomas explores the stories and behaviors they generate, including legends of the supernatural about cemetery statues, oral narratives of yard artists and accounts of pranks involving yard art, narratives about children's play with Barbie, Ken, and G.I. Joe, and the electronic folklore (or "e-lore") about Barbie that circulates on the Internet.


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User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Lots of neat examples of and gender-related theorizing about yard art, funerary statues, and Barbies, presented in disorganized fashion (though basically divided into chapters about each). I was most ... Read full review


Cemetery Statues Vengeful Virgins Naked Mourners and Dead White Guys
Yard Art Geese in Bikinis Garden Gnomes and Peeing Boys
Barbie and Her Consorts Baked Barbie Forgotten Ken and Flushed GI Joe
Bodies Beautiful and Violent Virgins Barbies and Joes
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About the author (2003)

Jeannie Banks Thomas, an associate professor of English at Utah State University, is the author of Featherless Chickens, Laughing Women, and Serious Stories, winner of the Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize.

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