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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Barbie’s ideal ‘dream world’ needs to change

Photo courtesy of Teen Vogue
Scene from the Barbie movie.

When the Barbie movie started, the first thing that was introduced was “BarbieLand.” BarbieLand is a “dream world” where there is no patriarchy or misogyny and everything is run by women. Almost everything is pink, from the outfits to the houses. Everything is peaceful, and everyone is happy. Women are powerful and have powerful and respected jobs. The idea is that this world is supposed to be the “dream world.” This isn’t the dream world though, because women may have these things, but the men have nothing.

I noticed that things in BarbieLand were different from the real world. Women were respected and powerful which is great, but men weren’t. They didn’t have jobs and they didn’t have respect. During the movie, when Barbie returned to BarbieLand with Gloria and Sasha, they asked where the Kens live. Barbie didn’t have an answer for this. The Kens didn’t even have houses. With that being said, is this really the ideal “dream world”?

After Barbie realized that she was having “malfunctions,” such as flat feet and cellulite, she ventured into the real world to fix things. In doing so, Ken accompanied her there. On their adventure, they both realize the true state of the world. They discovered the patriarchy. Barbie and Ken realized that in the real world, men were in power. Men had the powerful jobs, and they had the respect. Women were the ones treated as less than. Barbie first encountered this when she first arrived; she was harassed by many groups of men and even smacked on the butt by one. The sad part about this is that it is true. 

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center said, “Nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.”

I watched the “Barbie” movie for the first time with my mother on her birthday in fall, and on the way back from the movie my mom and I had a long talk about who exactly the patriarchy affects. And it is not just women. The patriarchy teaches men things, such as if you cry, you are weak. It teaches men that they must provide, be strong and have money to provide; if they don’t comply with these things, they’re seen as less than. This is not the truth; this is the propaganda that the patriarchy pushes onto men every day.

Next Gen Men said, “It’s an endless pressure for men to conform to a narrow prescription of masculinity, to compete with one another and to prove their manhood by surrendering their individuality and denying their humanity.”

When Barbie returns from the real world, she realizes that Ken had taken patriarchy and made BarbieLand an exaggeration of the real world, despite Barbie’s experiences.  In this process, BarbieLand became “Kendom.” All the women were forced to submit to the patriarchy and made to serve all of the Kens. The Kens now held power in the dream world, and women were seen as objects. Although this is a dramatization of how things are in reality, for the most part it is true. In the real world, women are seen as objects and weaker and fragile. 

“In a study of print media, researchers at Wesleyan University found that on average, across 58 different magazines, 51.8 percent of advertisements that featured women portrayed them as sex objects.”

— Unicef USA

Women are treated as less than men. The roles had been switched. Before, the Kens were treated like nothing. Then, once Ken discovered patriarchy the women were forced to take the role the Kens had before.

When BarbieLand was introduced, I didn’t like how the ideal “dream world” was shown to be all women in power. In BarbieLand everything was supposed to be perfect, and in reality everything was the opposite. Is it really the perfect world, if an entire group of society is treated as less than? Despite the fact that how Mattel portrayed the “real world” is somewhat accurate, it is not right to switch the roles. Women deserve better treatment, but that does not mean men should take our place in society. BarbieLand is not the ideal “dream world.” 

Regardless of how the “dream world” was portrayed, this movie has many amazing qualities. When watching the “Barbie” movie, I felt a sense of connection seeing women just like me on the screen. For example, seeing African-American actress Issa Rae playing President Barbie, made watching this movie more enjoyable for me. Not only did the Barbie movie display women of different skin tones, but they also had a lot of inclusivity with different gender identities such as Hari Nef, who is a trans woman, playing Doctor Barbie. All actors had equal opportunities in this film. Seeing all these different women in authoritative careers (president, lawyer, architect, doctor, etc.), and them being powerful, respected and appreciated was a meaningful experience. All the Barbies in the movie look up to each other and value everything they have done individually to create “BarbieLand.” Directors Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach clearly contradicted how inclusive our society is in this movie.

Being a woman isn’t easy, but seeing this movie made me feel better about it. Although it is hard, I’m not going through it alone. Being a woman is many things, but it isn’t lonely. Everywhere I go I see women just like me, so similar yet so different. I know that I am not in solitary with my feminine struggles, and this movie made me feel that more intensely. The ideal dream world doesn’t involve either gender being in full control, it is equal and Mattel needs to do better on portraying that.

What did you think about the Barbie movie? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributor
Natalya Horstmeier
Natalya Horstmeier, Staff Writer
Sophomore Natalya Horstmeier is a staff writer for Southpaw and Bearing News. She loves cooking, reading, coloring and plants. She has 2 dogs, 2 cats, and is about to adopt a new kitten.

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