Battle of the Sexes in Barbieland and the Real World… What answers does the Bible have for us?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The most surprising thing I did over the summer was watch the Barbie movie (twice)!

This film has made history for being the biggest ever debut for a film directed by a woman – £276m in the first weekend! So why are so many people (and it’s not just women) going to watch this film?

In case you haven’t seen it, here are a few of the parts that struck me (contains spoilers!).

The film portrays men, women and motherhood in a number of conflicting ways.  It opens by portraying motherhood as being dull and boring – a Barbie doll appears and the little girls smash their baby dolls, tea sets and ironing boards. One of the  main storylines however centres around a teenage girl, Sasha, (living in the Real World) whose relationship with her mother, Gloria, is very difficult; but working together to save Barbieland their relationship appears to be restored!

Barbieland is a place where women can be anything and where they rule: all the jobs are done by Barbies (except having a family – the only pregnant Barbie was discontinued) and the Kens are basically useless and irrelevant.  This is echoed by the portrayal in the Real World of Sasha’s father/ Gloria’s husband who doesn’t even get a name!  Ken it seems is nothing without Barbie and just spends his time waiting for her to notice him. Every night is Girls’ Night! In Barbieland there seem to be no real relationships between the Barbies and the Kens. Each Barbie lives alone and only interacts effectively with other Barbies. The haunting Billie Eilish song which recurs throughout the film emphasises the question, “What was I made for…?” Barbie and Ken have no real idea what each other are for or how to relate to one another.

When Barbie and Ken visit the Real World, Ken discovers “The Patriarchy”.  He then returns to Barbieworld and turns it into “Kendom” where the Kens are in control and the Barbies are reduced to waiting on them.  Barbie returns with Sasha and Gloria to find that Ken has taken over her dream house –  she is invited to join him but on his terms.

Barbie, Sasha, Gloria and the Barbies eventually win back Barbieland. Ken admits that he actually found being in charge too hard and that “Patriarchy” (as he had understood it) wasn’t actually that great!

Barbieland returns to normal but Barbie doesn’t choose to have a relationship  with Ken.  She decides to return to the real world and become human even though the real world is far from ideal.

Having raised so many important issues, unfortunately the film ends without providing any real answers!  It portrays so many of the difficulties of the relationship between men and women in our society and raises the important questions of “Who am I?”, “What was I made for?” and “What should our roles as men or women be?” but sadly offers no solution or answers!

Barbieland at first seemed like the perfect world but it turned out that it really wasn’t; non-existent and broken relationships turn out to be a lonely way to live.  The Bible tells us that we were made for relationship, firstly in relation to God and then to each other, but the only time men and women lived together in perfect harmony was in the garden of Eden before they disobeyed God.

Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ” 

Genesis 1:26-28      

God created men and women so that they could work together to care for his world and fill the world with children.  God’s good design is for men and women to be physically different and to fulfil different roles in his creation.  Both are equal in importance and equally loved and precious to God and both are needed in order for the world to function.  Unfortunately, a broken relationship with God resulted in a broken relationship with one another and the results of Adam and Eve’s disobedience are seen clearly in our world in the constant struggles between men and women.

As Christians we need to consider carefully how God intends us to relate to those of the opposite sex especially when there are so many conflicting world views around us as illustrated by the Barbie movie.

When we put our relationship with God first we will grow in His likeness, showing love and kindness to others and being able to approach relationships in a way that reflect God’s design and is honouring to Him. There are more articles on this website that look at various aspects of this which you may find useful to look at. Perhaps start with these: “Should I ask him out?” and “Finding the right marriage partner