Am I a Spanish Barbie?

September 3, 2009 § 4 Comments

Hola feministas (I have no idea if that’s a real world, but it seems fairly appropriate).

I’m sitting in the library doing my listening homework for my intro to Spanish class, all the while having little feminist daydreams. What’s currently on my mind are the ridiculous gender roles portrayed in language learning audio supplements. There is always a man and a woman having a charming conversation. The man has a deep, rich voice, while the woman’s is light and dainty. I’m kind of afraid that, in listening to these obnoxiously stereotypical gendered voices, I will adopt one myself, and inevitably become a Spanish Barbie doll.

I think the reason most tapes get away with this is because they typically have one person reading for each gender. Obviously, you aren’t going to get a whole lot of variety out of that. It just saddens me that there is one more part of my education that pushes traditional gender roles in a discreet (and therefore harder to call out) way. Luckily, women’s glib is the perfect forum for calling out seemingly insignificant shit.



§ 4 Responses to Am I a Spanish Barbie?

  • mirandanyc says:

    I had the same experience in my Japanese class when we lived in Kyoto — all these special verb forms and musical pronouncings that were, according to my teacher, “more appropriate” for women to use because they created a “softer sound.” I didn’t know whether it was valid feminism or a Western arrogance that made me annoyed. I wanted to say to my teacher, “let me sit down and hash this out with some Japanese feminists, and then let you know.”

  • poundofsass says:

    I don’t know if you even have to wait for the Japanese feminists. . . . actually, why would you? Not sure I understand that comment.

    • mirandanyc says:

      Because the knee-jerk reaction of “I know what’s best for women” smacks of colonialism and condescension when coming from a white Western woman (me) living and borrowing culture from the Japanese.

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