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How the Barbie Movie Tackles Patriarchy from a Refreshing Perspective

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

We’ve all seen the blockbuster“Barbie” that hit theatres in late July, and it was unnecessarily the face of a huge debate- you either loved it or hated it. From it blowing up on TikTok and becoming the trend, fame will always come with backlash, and we can clearly see that from men’s perspective.

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie
Warner Bros. Pictures

“It’s woke and anti-male!” many men cry out to social media, and to that, I say “Did you even watch the movie?” Did you watch the part when Ken realizes that the patriarchy is unhealthy and exhausting for men as well? That abiding by gender roles at all times can be unnecessarily stressful? And most importantly, he stopped caring about the patriarchy when it stopped being about horses. Barbie is far from anti-male, I would even go as far as saying it’s pro-male.

One of the main themes of the film is that patriarchy harms not just the women who must serve men, but also the men who assume the position of the dominant gender in that system. Under this system, the Kens can never truly be themselves and they can only perform their assigned duties. But the central theme explores the idea of abandoning gender roles and for the Barbies to have the majority of power, not the Kens. And for the Kens to, well, be “Kenough”. The Kens are allowed to be themselves without worrying about not fulfilling a specific role, not being ripped or not having abs or not being 6ft doesn’t matter, it’s okay. You’re Kenough.

Traditionally, Barbie movies have often focused on themes of empowerment, independence, and breaking stereotypes. They often feature strong female protagonists who pursue their goals and dreams. The meaning of the Barbie movie is the transition of girl to woman and how we navigate the world around us. We grow from naive little girls where everything is pink and perfect to women who are often hardened by the unrealistic expectations held to our throats. When we grow old, we reflect and see all the sacrifices our mothers and grandmothers made for their daughters. “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they have come.” One of the major quotes in the film is stated by the creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler.

After understanding the main message of the film, I can’t help but scratch my head when men claim it’s anti-male or too woke. It’s trying to state the facts on a silver platter and be a connection to women around the world, not political propaganda meant for you to hate men. The film specifically addresses the problems with the patriarchy on BOTH sides of the equation, from a male and female perspective.

The Barbie movie is vital and tackles the harm of patriarchy from both sides along with the battle women face with perfectionism. Barbie represents what you don’t see in film much, and it’s a woman’s perspective and what it truly means to be a woman. Barbie embraces womanhood with a warm hug, and the movie made me feel less ashamed for having feminine interests. It is okay to wear hot pink and love makeup or anything traditionally viewed as “feminine”, it’s okay to be yourself. Being yourself is so important! Most importantly, to never change yourself for another person as seen in Barbie and Ken’s relationship dynamic.

Last but not least, the film was directed and crafted by women, giving it a special touch it wouldn’t have been able to attain if it was created by a man. Plenty of times women scrutinize men’s portrayals of women, especially in horror films. You can often see if a woman’s character was written by a man or a woman, especially seen in The Idol where Jocelyn’s character makes no sense from a woman’s perspective. Barbie will surpass $1 billion worldwide, according to Warner Bros. estimates. Hard as it may be to believe, that makes director Greta Gerwig the only woman in the billion-dollar club with sole credit for directing a film according to NPR. And as a woman, I couldn’t be more proud to love and support this movie with all my might.

Ariana (she/her) is a Puerto Rican majoring in psychology with a minor in English. She is currently the social media director of Her Campus at Florida International University. Hoping to gain more experience throughout her college career, Ariana is an ambitious writer who is ready to take on whatever lies ahead!