Barbie Movie. Male-Bashing? Only For Men and Women Who Feel Threatened .

By now we all know the movie isn’t remotely an “All men suck” diatribe. No-thinking woman I know thinks this, as no-thinking man I know believes all women are “bitches.”

Barbie the movie. Barbie and Ken experience an existential identity crisis.

Growing up I loved Barbie. The original 1970’s blond impossibly thin-waisted, exaggerated beauty and boobs. I loved her hair, clothes, perfect make-up, high heels and glitz.

The full girliness of all of her.

But as an eventual feminist and mother to a daughter (I bought her a few Disney character Barbies), Barbie wasn’t exactly my idea of female body positivity and empowerment.

She was a ridiculous beauty ideal and bubble-headed arm candy. And while I love a good satire, I assumed the movie would be nauseating.

I was, to say the least, floored that my 25-year-old daughter went. She’s a mini-me feminist. Equality for all, and yes, of course that means men too.

When she was little we watched every Disney movie, and never did I suck the fun out of the boy-saves-girl Belle or Cinderella tropes.

Why would I?

That is until middle school, the entry hell of puberty, full of fragile self-esteem, gender expectations and overwhelming insecurity.

It’s then I taught her about the fight for equality, and the importance of being assertive (to the degree her shyness allowed). And that creating boundaries doesn’t mean “bitch or difficult,” it means self-respect.

And that it’s okay to have a healthy squishy body (all while I worried about gaining weight).

A comment from a man in response to a post I wrote about the movie before I saw it:

As a *cishet male, I was not remotely offended or threatened by the movie. Definitely not “male bashing”. I hope we see more movies like this. I hear Mattel is already planning a sequel.”

My guess is the movie’s message didn’t threaten him, it merely illuminated what he already knew.

It’s clear I haven’t been paying attention to evolving Barbie. She’s grown into an individual and kept pace with every complex wave of feminism.

Barbie today is every woman.

Every color and shape. Every career, or homemaker. Every position of power. Glamorous or earthy.

Barbie doesn’t care if you’re a stay at home mom or CEO.

The movie isn’t remotely an “All men suck” diatribe. No-thinking woman thinks this, as no-thinking man believes all women are “bitches.”

The movie is sort of Rorschach test for the male ego, but also for women who knee jerk “hate feminists.” Which is also weird to me. You don’t like equality?

But traditionalists only like things they way they were. No gay marriage, no sexual fluidity. Woman at home and at the knees of God and men. Submit, as (their) version of God intended.

Barbie isn’t a threat. She says listen ladies and gentleman, I won’t tell you who to be, and you don’t tell me who you think I should be.

My husband is a feminist. The quiet kind. Meaning he acts it but won’t claim the title out loud. He won’t attend a women’s rights rally, but he’s vehemently pro-choice, and respects strong accomplished smart women. He liked the Barbie movie for exactly what it was. Campy, funny, entertaining, with feminist messaging.

There’s something viewers shouldn’t miss in the movie, the message for Ken.

That, while Barbie is no longer the poster girl for a one-dimensional female ideal, Ken too, has always been more complex than what people expected of him.

In the movie, after Ken goes of the rails and dives into toxic masculinity alpha male douchebagness as his way to feel validated, he realizes that’s not who he is either. So Ken finds his true self, and is no longer threatened by strong Barbie, because he finally knows who he is.

If that’s not a movie for the ages, no matter how campy and ridiculous, nothing is.

*This two-part identity means that a person is both cisgender and heterosexual. A cishet person identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth, and they choose romantic partners of the opposite sex.

Related post: I was shocked my grown daughter wanted to see the Barbie movie.



Human Nature - Laura G Owens - Writer

Social commentary. Huffington Post. Personal essays. The human condition. 15 years researching and writing about mind & body natural health.