Shakira Says Barbie is Emasculating, But with a Caveat

Barbie’s getting some higher-profile critics. In the latest issue of Allure, pop star Shakira talked about watching the blockbuster movie with her sons, and neither she nor they were thrilled with it. When asked if she saw Barbie, Shakira confirmed that she did, then paused, which the interviewer took as an indication that she didn’t like it, and when she asked, Shakira said this:

“My sons absolutely hated it. They felt that it was emasculating. And I agree, to a certain extent. I’m raising two boys. I want ‘em to feel powerful too [while] respecting women. I like pop culture when it attempts to empower women without robbing men of their possibility to be men, to also protect and provide. I believe in giving women all the tools and the trust that we can do it all without losing our essence, without losing our femininity. I think that men have a purpose in society and women have another purpose as well. We complement each other, and that complement should not be lost.”

Taken by itself, this is a nice sentiment, and a lot of people have said this about entertainment in general, including me. There’s no reason to dumb down the men so women can be cool, or vice versa; everybody can be cool. That’s why stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, and The Long Kiss Goodnight is so beloved decades later, while modern movies like Disney’s Star Wars and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny are being rejected; the older ones created fantastic women who were undeniably the heroes of their stories while surrounding them with strong, capable, three-dimensional men (and other women), while the newer ones cut everyone else’s legs off to artificially prop up their central paragons. As for Barbie, I haven’t seen it, so I can’t speak with much authority, but I will say that I don’t care all that much if it’s derogatory towards men because Barbie should be a movie for girls. It would be nice if guys could have our stuff back, please and thank you, but Barbie doesn’t have to be for me.

But the fact that Shakira is saying this is interesting, and people are taking notice. Why? Well, here’s what she said about the Biblical story of Adam and Eve earlier in the interview:

“Eve was a story created by misogynists to put women in the little box where we have to remain silent, not speak our minds, and not be a catalyst for change. To keep things as they are.”

In other words, Shakira is not a traditional values type of lady. To have her say that Barbie is emasculating men while saying men and women should have equal roles in society that don’t diminish each other means more than if someone everyone expects to think that way says it, like Camille Paglia, for example. On the other hand, I think her comments are being overpraised and not considered in the context in which she means them. Look at the bit of the interview immediately following her Barbie talk:

“Just because a woman can do it all doesn’t mean she should?”

“Why not share the load with people who deserve to carry it, who have a duty to carry it as well?”

Yep, there it is. It’s not about how men feel or who they are or what they want to do or be. It’s about men taking responsibility and doing their part to help women; that’s the extent to which she cares about art “emasculating” men. They have to be allowed to “carry the load” for women. To be fair, the question was very leading, probably because the interviewer didn’t want her article to get too pro-men. (Notice how none of Shakira’s Barbie quotes are highlighted throughout the article, but the Eve quote is.) And, again, that’s fine; as Barbie is a women’s movie, so Allure is a women’s magazine, and it shouldn’t be for me. But it’s a little annoying watching men on social media clapping like seals at this without thinking about it for more than a second – or a glance at the pictures of Shakira, presumably.

Comments (2)

April 2, 2024 at 6:05 am

You’d think it would be tough to rattle them. I thought she would have her boys in soccer already, training all day. Guess maybe they are more into music? I don’t follow them. I did like Shakira when she started though. The Spanish rock from a Colombian-Lebanese with the belly-dancer moves. Was something kind of different.

April 2, 2024 at 10:27 pm

Good for her not being afraid to speak out.

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