Barbie Isn't The 'Man Hating' Movie Many Critics Claim It Is — It's A Commentary On How The Patriarchy Harms Us All

Waves of criticism that Barbie is 'anti-man' ignores the movie's message that men, too, are hurt by patriarchy.

Margot Robbie & Ryan Gosling DFree, Fred Duval, Kathy Hutchins, CN299 / Shutterstock

The long-awaited premiere of the Barbie movie on July 21, 2023 broke several records wide open. The film grossed $155 million domestically over one weekend, cementing its place in history as having the largest opening weekend of 2023 and as the biggest debut for a female director ever.

For all its unprecedented successes, Barbie has been continuously criticized by conservative pundits as a movie that’s anti-man, overtly feminist and all together “too woke.” Yet to push that particular narrative is to miss the point of the movie, completely.


Barbie isn’t the ‘man-hating’ movie critics claim it is — it’s a thoughtful commentary on how the patriarchy harms us all, women and men.

In the Greta Gerwig-directed "Barbie," Barbies (and Kens) live in a world, Barbieland, where women wield power. The president is a Barbie; the Supreme Court are all Barbies. The characters exist in a mirror-image version of human society, only for Barbie’s sense of self-worth and identity to come crashing down when she and Ken journey to the real world. 

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A salient plot-point in the movie is the way Ken feels emboldened by the concept of patriarchy, so much so that he subverts the universe Barbie created in order to lift himself up.


A number of conservative commentators are holding tight to the belief that Barbie maintains a man-hating narrative, when really, the movie reveals how toxic masculinity hurts both women and men, in different yet valid ways.

One woman, Paulina Cardenas, used TikTok to send a message “to all of the guys trolling the Barbie movie for ‘reverse sexism.’”

“If it made you feel uncomfortable that Ken had no power and was overlooked in Barbieland, congrats, you’ve gotten a SLIGHT glimpse of what women have fought against for decades in this world,” Cardenas stated.



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“This movie isn’t about you,” she continued. “And if you think it is, instead of standing behind the women in your life, you’re part of the issue.”

Another woman, Therese Adair, took to TikTok to express her thoughts on the implications of critiquing Barbie as a man-hating movie.

“The hardest part of watching Barbie is knowing that there will be a huge majority of people who interpret it as an ‘anti-man’ and ‘man hating’ film when that could not be further from the truth. And how the audience of people rejecting the real message of Barbie will be the same audience of people who need to hear the real message most.”



Adair exclaimed that the “real message being the struggle of women and girlhood in a patriarchal society, and how not only does patriarchy demean women, but strips men of their emotional validity, forcing men to grow up disconnected from themselves and their emotions. Which only further perpetuates itself in a vicious cycle.”


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The underlying message of Barbie is 'how important it is to bridge the gap between genders to create a better world, not just for the women abused by patriarchy, but for the men as well.'

"The film is truly for everyone," she explained. "We just need to listen."

At its core, patriarchy thrives by maintaining a message of toxic masculinity. It’s an all-encompassing system that oppresses women while also oppressing men.

Upholding a rigid definition of what men are allowed to be limits the emotional depths they’re able to reach. Patriarchy harms men by keeping them isolated from one another and from themselves.


In an article from the New York Times, Gerwig expressed the importance of recognizing nuance and holding space for multiple meanings. “Things can be both/and,” she explained. Later in the article, Gerwig exclaimed, “The story of Barbie is the fight that’s been going on about Barbie.”

The criticism of Barbie as a man-hating movie shows the fight is alive and well. Yet the genius of the movie lies in its open willingness to take on that particular fight.

Barbie is sparking crucial conversations, centering on the ways women and men both deserve so much more from this world. 


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.