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Named after the book The Achilles Effect, this site originated as 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, in all honesty, it had been in a state of benign neglect for some time. I  began rebuilding the site in early 2017  but soon realized that I can no longer give it the attention it deserves. After many years writing about boys and gender stereotypes, I find myself needing to shift gears to focus more  on my freelance writing business.

This site will remain active for a while yet, but I will be closing it once my current hosting package expires in December 2017.  I will continue to write a blog and address the topics I covered on this site from time to time, but will also branch out into other areas. I will also gradually shift my social media over to my own name, but the existing Achilles Effect accounts will remain for now. Links to the new blog (once it launches) and my social media can be found on my website at crystalsmith.ca, for those who wish to continue following me.

Thanks to friends and family and the colleagues who became friends and helped draw attention to my work: Melissa, Lori, Michele, Jennifer, Regina, Sharon, Pia, Amy, Marci,  Erin, Jenn, and Jodi. (Apologies if I’ve missed anyone!)

Thank you to all of the supporters of this site who commented here or on social media. I learned so much from you and greatly enjoyed the conversations we had. I encourage everyone to continue discussing the impact of gender stereotypes on boys. To that end, here is a far from exhaustive list of organizations and individuals you can follow to keep up the conversation. The names are sourced mainly from Twitter where all of these people are very active:

There are many other people working on combatting gender inequality and stereotypes and improving media literacy.  The list is a very long one so rather than repeat it here, I will direct you to the list of people I follow on Twitter. (Some have nothing to do with gender issues, but those who do will be obvious.) If you have others, please leave them in the comments.

Thank you and farewell!

Crystal