Named after the book The Achilles Effect, this site is a place to discuss the impact of male and female gender stereotypes on boys.

I’m Crystal Smith. I started this site in late 2008, with the idea of eventually writing a book about media influences on boys’ ideas of masculinity. I published that book, The Achilles Effect: What Pop Culture is Teaching Young Boys about Masculinity, in 2011. I’ve covered a lot of ground on this site, including posts about gender stereotypes in boys’ clothing, LEGO, and in toy marketing in general. In fact,  that last topic inspired a post about toy ad vocabulary that went viral, with media coverage in the Boston Globe and Advertising Age,  as well as cross-posts on Feministing, and Jezebel.

My second book, Boys, Sex & Media looks at older boys, specifically pre-teens and teens.  It examines stereotypes and sexism in pop culture depictions of romantic and sexual relationships, and gives parents advice in how to guide their sons through this media landscape.  Given the focus of the second book, my blog also expanded to include topics related to media messages about sex and sexuality.

My website endured for eight years, nearly to the day. Technical problems  caused the loss of the site in late 2016, but I am rebuilding it with a blend of “best of” posts from my archives–which I thankfully backed up as Word docs when I wrote them–and new material.

Older blog posts are tagged “From the Archives.” Once I have re-posted all of the material from past years I will move onto fresh content. For the latest updates, I invite you to follow me on social media, using the links in the top right corner of this page.

Thanks for visiting!