Robyne Stevenson
3 min readJul 29, 2023
Photo by Myke Simon on Unsplash


Critics (mostly men) have said it reproduces more patriarchy (here) and that it makes men become incels (here).


Critics (mostly men) have said Barbie recommends autonomy instead of community (here). Did they go to the bathroom during the Barbieland scenes?

Critics (some women) have said — I didn’t read their reviews.

Barbie is the quintessential statement on what it means to be a woman trying to navigate a patriarchal world. Barbie gave women, before they were full-grown, the opportunity to imagine life on their terms.

Never did I ever encounter when I played Barbie, any girls having their Ken dolls make catcalls at Barbie.

Never did I ever encounter when I played Barbie, any girls making Barbie be a bimbo, a servant, a dumb blonde, or abused by Ken.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Barbie provided agency to girls like me who were born into a life where roles were fixed. I heard the challenges in the 1960s to those fixed roles and my Barbie played accordingly. My Barbie was liberated but not angry or nasty. I didn’t want Ken to be an incel. I didn’t care about Ken unless I wanted a date for the evening and then he definitely went home at the end. My Barbie house was for me and my Barbie girlfriends.

If you are criticizing the monologue about patriarchy then you are either a man or you’re a woman who hasn’t seen the light. Period. Because most women will hear the experience of being a woman in that monologue. And we will have empathy with America Ferrera’s passion.

It’s not a perfect movie that ties up all the loose ends. Most movies don’t if they are multi-layered and have several threads of messages. Do you think guys discuss Star Wars ad nauseam because it’s perfect? Nah, bro. It’s like Swiss cheese and gives fans unending opportunities to dissect those plot point holes. A sign of an epic movie.

Is Barbie epic? Yes, it is. From the 2001 A Space Odyssey homage to the Matrix Oracle homage. From its pink plastic fun-house to its West Side Story Sharks and Jets beach throwdown.

Barbie is liberation. Barbie used her stereotypical physique and dumb blond image to remind us there is more to women than what men have portrayed us as and what women have bought into. Barbie is not a put-down. She’s an access point.

Barbie was my access point to believe that women are agents of their own destinies. I could make my Barbie smart, not infatuated with Ken, her own person, and have fun. I was reminded of that innocence as I watched the movie and reveled in the imagination that is Barbieland. The rise of Kendom is nothing more than a reflection of how women navigate real life. Putting it down is our refusal to let the sanctity of our imagination and desires be removed.

Take away our rights all you want, but we will carry on our dreams. And dreams inspire people to action. That’s my takeaway from Barbie.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
Robyne Stevenson

I travel the country in my Airstream meeting people and enjoying life. I’m a writer. I was a Professor of Politics. Things change.