Millions of women have been flocking to see Barbie in theaters since it came out, and more have gone on to praise it on social media. Many of us were hoping to go see a fun movie that let us escape from our everyday reality, but we were instead pushed into yet another political agenda. Adults watching may be able to identify the satire and thus not be conditioned by it, but younger folks are more likely to be unconsciously swayed by the subliminal programming in the movie. Don’t get me wrong — there were many parts of the movie that I enjoyed, but there were other parts that made me raise an eyebrow.
Personally, the movie left me with whiplash. One minute we’re watching a fun Barbie movie, the next we’re having some heavy messaging thrown in our faces. Long gone are the days of fun rom-coms allowing us to escape our everyday realities.
According to the traditional Barbie story, Ken is “just Ken,” but they made it so much more than that in the movie. If it was just a regular Barbie storyline, no one would be raising an eyebrow, and the movie likely wouldn’t be the first thing you see as you open Instagram. But the reality is that Barbie made many viewers feel like the Kens (representing men) are just props for women to move around. All the Barbies worked and the men, “the Kens,” didn’t. Barbie was the one always driving the car, being in control, and basically being masculine. Ken was positioned as slowing her down instead of helping her and protecting her. From the first scene to the last, it wasn’t putting men in a good light, whether in Barbie Land or the real world.
One aspect of the movie I enjoyed was Barbie not just choosing Ken because she “should.” It offered a positive message to young girls, showing them that you can choose your own life. However, having the Barbies manipulate the Kens in order to return all the power to the Barbies as it was originally (which is not equality) doesn’t send a good message of how to work with men. Instead, it proliferates the separation between men and women, setting up a society that is still in opposition.
Whilst some may say the end of the movie showed harmony and equality, I have to respectfully disagree. Sure, Ken felt empowered to find himself outside of Barbie, but the Barbies got all their control back, their jobs, and the Kens were still left with no power in Barbie Land. Basically it flipped the 1800s on its head, and now women get all the say. I would’ve preferred seeing women in power alongside men, not despite them.
Sure, it’s promoting independence and power for women, but when you really understand women, men, femininity, and masculinity, you realize that that’s not what brings happiness in the long run. It’s a great power trip, but feminine women want to be protected, provided for, and led. They don’t want to have to do everything themselves and for everyone else.
Honestly, the movie just exacerbated what many women feel today — that women have to do everything. What if the Kens actually started helping the Barbies? Wouldn’t that have been nice to see?
Every Barbie had some high-flying job (lawyer, doctor, judge, etc.), and while it’s great for girls to know they can do anything, there was no option for a girl to dream to be a mother, or to have a job that isn’t as demanding professionally. The “miss independent” agenda doesn’t always equal happiness. In fact, I’ve seen it more often than not equal hormonal imbalance, burnout, and resentment towards men. Girls watching this movie aren’t going to see that it can be empowering to lean into your feminine and allow your man to protect and guide you.
The main thing that this movie is missing is a Barbie who leans into motherhood and womanhood. The only depiction we have of a pregnant character isn’t even a Barbie and the other characters call her “weird.” Even the CEO of Mattel said “I thought we discontinued you.” Not exactly positive messaging to girls.
It was refreshing to hear Gloria (America Ferrera) want Mattel to create a “normal” woman. However, she also was clearly in the driver’s seat of her relationship with a man that was depicted to be basically a boy and completely emasculated. If Barbie is supposed to represent true feminism, I don’t think this movie did a good job.
Truly empowered women embrace all their desires. You can grow into your feminine while being led by your man in a strong relationship. Ken was never given the opportunity to lead Barbie while she was on this journey to discover herself and was basically shut out by her the entire time. Yes, I know it’s a story, but the movie clearly wasn’t the traditional story so we also could have had a non-traditional Ken. If she had allowed him in, and given him the chance to collaborate with her, they could have redesigned Barbie Land together. When Ken flipped Barbie Land, it was refreshing to see some Barbies enjoying not having to make decisions, but of course the twist is that they were being “brainwashed” as the Kens were implementing Patriarchy.
What if women don’t want to make the decisions? What if we want to relax and let him lead? This movie portrays that doing so is disempowering, but in reality, for many modern women that have gone through the journey of connecting to their feminine desires, they actually feel that it’s radically empowering to them.
Obviously it’s a story — but let’s be real: this movie was full of radical feminist agenda. And while I’m a feminist, I’m not one that promotes women having all the power and having to be “miss independence” — that’s not empowerment. That’s disconnection from our innate desires and needs as a woman. It was missing a more comprehensive view of women’s desires and ambitions today. Women are burnt out by the hustle and grind, and more and more women are wanting to soften into their femininity today. This movie, while full of satire that adults can disregard, children and the youth cannot.
Today, women are lucky enough to have the option to take on a job like a doctor, lawyer, or physicist — but they can also be a wife and mother. There is nothing wrong about leaning into your feminine and gaining strength alongside your partner.
To learn more about leaning into your femininity and being led by your man, you can check out my Feminine As F*ck Podcast.
Monica Yates is a trauma healer, feminine/masculine embodiment coach, and period expert. She’s also the podcast host of the Feminine As F*ck Podcast (more than 1.6 million downloads) and runs a business helping people from all walks of life get into their magnetic feminine energy, feel safe letting men lead, heal their cycle and be free of the trauma and energetic blocks that hold them back from living their dream life. She has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Men’s Health and more. Learn more at monicayateshealth.com.