Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wrapping up my Barbie World Experience!

I have really enjoyed my online virtual world experience. It was interesting to see what occurred in Barbie World and also to read about what my classmates were experiencing. I had never participated in a virtual world before so it was interesting to actually create an avatar and participate in the world. Even though Virtual Barbie is more for young girls I could still examine identity, race, gender, and sexuality. It was very intriguing to see what the Barbies talked about and discussed with one another. I kept thinking what this virtual world was teaching young girls in our society the entire time I was in there. It’s so interesting to see that these younger girls already truly valued things like appearance, beauty, materialistic items, and clothing. The world pretty much reinforces every stereotype of what “feminine” is in our society. Young girls are learning ideologies of what is accepted in our society by just participating in a virtual world.

People who participated in other virtual worlds of course experienced different things compared to me. I know a lot of people who were in Habbo Hotel and Second Life experience many sexual things while I did not see any sexual acts or nudity. As I mentioned in my Sexuality post sexuality was still present in Barbie World but no sexual acts were performed (that I saw). In other worlds my classmates saw nudity and many people experienced occasions associated with sex. I think the topics of examine identity, race, gender, and sexuality can be viewed/observed in any situation or virtual world. The degree of these topics varied from each person’s virtual world experience.

I learned that we are all automatically socialized through our cultural mediums like the internet, TV, movies, books, etc. Even though I participated in a virtual world for younger girls they already knew how they should look/act to be beautiful and accepted into “womanhood.” The image of the “perfect, thin, beautiful body with boobs” was all the young girls could be in this virtual world. From reading other classmates posts I think it is prevalent that the idea of the “perfect male or female” was present. I know in World of War craft the female avatars were curvaceous and skinny while the male avatars were muscular and “manly.” People create avatars in these online worlds and the stereotypes and images of what is accepted and viewed in positive light in our society is reinforced. One question I am left wondering is if there are different virtual worlds that pertain to one area/country in particular? For example, there are some areas that view larger women in a very positive light and having fat on your bones is beautiful. I wonder if there was a world just for an area/culture like this if the avatars would only be larger. The hegemonic ruling class and what is viewed as “beautiful” in our society is just reinforced in these virtual worlds. I think this was obvious in Virtual Barbie and also in World of War craft and Second Life.

Overall, the topics of identity, gender, race, and sexuality were present in all of our virtual world experiences. It was very intriguing to read about others experiences and observations compared to my own. I learned a lot about how these ideologies are being created and reinforced in our society and also to analyze what messages mass mediums in our society are sending to not only myself but the people around me. I think it would be nice if we had more messages of accepting and owning your body and not trying to adjust it to be skinny and thin. I don't know who came up with the idea that skin and bones was beautiful but I personally know that is not healthy. I think we should all start to analyze how not only ourselves but our younger generations are being socialized and try to change some of the ideologies of our society.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gender Identity.

It's so weird that all these things we have been talking about in class keep popping up on television shows I have been watching. Even if you don't like Oprah, her show today exemplified and explained the idea of gender identity and how people can feel trapped in the wrong gender/body. This show really opened my eyes to the concept of gender identity.

Click the link below to read more about Paul, a high school football star who later on in life became Kimberly.



That 70's Show.

I was watching That 70's Show last night and it made me think of our class discussion yesterday. Go to 3:18 in the video in particularly! I love Donna!! Funny, but interesting!


Sunday, July 4, 2010


Well here's an update since my last blog -- I am now officially allowed back into Barbie World. I don't know if maybe there was a glitch or what? I no longer feel like a total creep which is good and now I can explore around more to truly examine and write this blog about gender.

Happy 4th of July everyone! While exploring around Barbie World I entered a room where the Barbie who lived in the room demand everyone to wear red, white, and blue to enter. She blocked the entrance to her room with three red, white, and blue garbage cans. Here is a screen shot of my 4th of July look, and of the room with the red, white, and blue cans blocking the entrance. I changed my look and hair to see if people would communicate with me differently but as I am coming to find out the topic of communication is pretty lame in Barbie World. No one really talks and if they do it’s typically about clothes and physical appearance.

Gender is defined as what is in between your ears while sex is defined as what is in between your legs. Gender has to do with the ideas of femininity and masculinity and what someone thinks of them self. Gender is also socially constructed by talking with others, and determining how others view you. Gender is overall how someone views them self in terms of being feminine or masculine. There are many biological males who feel very feminine rather than masculine and many females who feel more masculine than feminine. An example of this would be a cross-dresser or drag queen. They are biologically males but feel feminine so they dress in female clothing like dresses and skirts and wear makeup. Gender is a hard thing to decipher especially in Virtual Barbie. I cannot really talk to these avatars about how they view their own gender or what they think of gender in general and it’s hard to tell just from an avatars appearance.

In Barbie World every avatar has to be female so there is no room for cross-dressing or gender changes. While adventuring around a lot of the world is pink and very feminine music is playing in the back ground. When communicating with other avatars I tend to find that they focus a lot on appearance including clothes and accessories. In one of the avatars rooms I visited they even had a mirror contest. The Barbies would take turn sitting in front of the mirror and then the other Barbies would say things like “you’re so pretty” and stuff like that. This is just implying that all females must be feminine and that if a biological female feels more masculine then it is not allowed/accepted. Many girls who enter this world are just learning that the ultimate idea of femininity is all about pink, butterflies, clothes, makeup, and ultimately girlhood. A girl who felt more inclined to playing sports and was a “tom boy” could possibly feel ashamed of her interests because it is nonconventional to what a “normal, feminine, girl” enjoys. I think this virtual world plays into the idea of ultra femininity, and that all girls have to be totally feminine and not at all masculine to be accepted. You can’t engage in physical sports in Barbie World and never come into contact with anything pertaining to masculinity. Virtual worlds like this can be sending messages to young children on how to behave based upon their sex when maybe their gender is telling them something different. This can lead to many unhappy people in our society. An example could be a male who feels like a woman (gender) but is trapped in a male body (sex). Learning what gender is supposed to go with which sex at a young age can lead many people to feel lost and unaccepted in the world.

Here's a fun photo of an AWESOME chair I found in someone's room. (This has nothing to do with gender, I just thought it was nifty!)

How do you think gender is portrayed in our contemporary media? Do you think we are exposed to enough stories about drag queens, gays, and bisexuals? Do you think that if our popular media included more gays, transsexuals, bisexuals, and cross dressers we would find it more accepting and in return not judge people who fall into these categories as much? Do you think people should be more exposed to the idea of gender, and what it actually means?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sex & Candy or shall I say Sex & Barbie?

While adventuring through the pink virtual world of Barbie I have been observing the other avatars around me. Each avatar has a curvaceous body with fully formed boobs. The image of "sex appeal" is present subliminally. We don't see avatars performing sexual acts in Barbie World but the avatars are fairly sexualized. The body shape of every avatar is the same and cannot be adjusted like I talked about in my Identity blog. This gives every girl a curvy, sexy avatar to call their own. One thing I observed is that during the day the avatars look totally different than the avatars in Barbie World at night. The avatars during the day typically show no midriff and are fairly covered but some of the Barbies at night look pretty risky. Some avatars were showing their stomachs and others had tube tops on (as you can see in the images above). I guess you can change your outfit when you have VIP status because all the “sexier” avatars I saw had obtained VIP! Sexuality is prevalent in Barbie World but you have to search it out. When I was in Barbie World later at night I could access other avatar's rooms. I felt a little creepy but thought I should check it out. In these rooms avatars were dressed more scandalous but no talk/discussion of sex went on. Since the avatars in this virtual world are automatically so curvaceous and pretty sexualized this could be teaching girls that they must look the same way to be sexy/hot to impress other people. The VIP avatars could change their clothes and in one of the rooms the avatars would hold a “fashion show.” Two people would be the judge and then the other two would change their appearance (hair, face, clothing, etc.) and then they would walk around like a model would walk the cat walk. After this the two judges would judge who they thought was the best and that person would win the modeling contest. In these rooms the focus was on appearance and beauty not on characteristics or interests. This goes to show that the girls playing in this game have already learned that beauty/sexuality is an important thing in our society to survive. Of course I didn’t see anyone having sex or taking their clothes off like in some other virtual worlds but the idea of sexuality is apparent. These girls already know that clothing, make up, and outside appearance is SUPER important to their popularity and to win contests. In another room we had a "couch party" where everyone just sat on the couch and then no one talked (that was pretty weird & really had nothing to do with sexuality). One thing I realized when entering into these other avatars rooms is that you can sit on couches if they have them but you cannot sit/lay on their bed. So yes, the importance of sexuality/appearance can be observed in Barbie World but sexual acts cannot be performed or observed. I think sexuality would be more prevalent in the virtual world for adults rather than this world for young girls. I actually tried to sign into my Barbie World account today and I received a message saying I was banned? I don’t know why I would be banned but apparently I am? Maybe being in Barbie World at night allows for suspicion, I don't really know? I really just wanted to see the difference of Barbie World during the day compared to later at night. After seeing that message I felt like the ultimate creep when I didn’t even do anything creepy? Weird….Maybe it’s a good thing – Barbie World was way to pink for me to begin with! Haha


Do you think sexuality in our media is prevalent and impacting young children? If, so how do you think images of sexuality shapes children to view not only themselves but the people around them? Do you think that sexuality in our society has a positive or negative impact on young children including boys and girls? Do you think that images of sex/sexuality are hyper sexualizing children growing up in the 21st century?

Here are two screen shots of the modeling and couch party!

Here's the message I received making me aware that I had been banned from Barbie World!