Study Questions for Katha Pollitt’s “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls”

  1. Before you read Pollitt’s essay, comment on “why boys would not play with dolls”.
  2. After you read Pollitt’s essay and identify her perspective about why boys don’t play with dolls, discuss to what extent and in what ways your argument matches Katha Politt’s argument.
  3. Identify where Pollitt locates her thesis in her essay and comment on why she has chosen to do so.
  4. Explain Katha Pollitt’s opinion of “theories of innate differences” in boys’ and girls’ behavior.  Do you agree with her? Why? Why not?
  5. What does Pollitt mean when she writes “[feminism] has hardly turned America into a playground free of sex roles?
  6. Identify Katha Pollitt’s opinion of current feminists and explain the reasons for her opinion.
  7. According to Pollitt, “With sex roles, as in every area of life, people aspire to what is possible, and conform to what is necessary”. Discuss the reason(s) for such conformity.
  8. Why does Pollitt say that “feminism fits our children’s future”? Do you agree with her? Why? Why not?
  9. Suggested Essay Topic: Do you think “Barbie” is a figure of subordination or a figure of empowerment? Discuss. (Suggested reading: Sandra Cisneros’s Barbie-Q: A Subversive or Hegemonic Popular Text? by Leticia I. Romo, Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, 2005, Vol. 24, p127-137)Suggested Short Story: “Barbie-Q” by Sandra Cisneros

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, June 2010


Posted by Ali Nihat Eken

Teaching at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey

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