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What Barbie Got Wrong

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Barbie and Ken from the Barbie movie driving away from Barbieland singing. It's So Subtle.

And It’s So Subtle

There’s been so much hype around the Barbie movie. So far, it has earned over $1.34 billion worldwide. Wow! It is the biggest global earner for Warner Bros. ever, and the highest-grossing domestic movie of the year. Well done Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie! So, with all the craze, I had to watch it for myself.

Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the movie.

What can I say? It was a whimsical production of a real-life Barbie world. The dollhouse, convertible car, beautiful clothing, and of course, all the pink. Definitely a nostalgic throwback of childhood for many, including myself.

The plot of the story is about Barbieland as a feminist utopia. In this place, Barbies (i.e., the women) can do anything: become president, win literary awards, and throw fabulous parties. They are in control of the world, and the Kens (i.e., the men) are completely dependent on the Barbies for their identity and self-worth. Basically, their lives revolve around them.

Gerwig masterfully juxtaposes feminism with patriarchy, and cleverly compares the two worlds, punctuating toxic masculinity, internalized oppression of women, and the normalization of both.  

Although the producer gets a lot right, there is one thing missing. What I call “relationalism”.          

I define relationalism as a deep connection between people where both sides cherish and empower the other while being faithful to themselves.

Here’s the difference. Feminism advocates for the equal rights of women and men. Fair enough. I believe equality makes for a just world (equity is even better). Patriarchy on the other hand, upholds the supreme dominance and privilege of men. Not cool.

However, here’s my unpopular opinion. Both sides are looking out for themselves. Feminists want to have rights, the same as men have. Patriarchy wants all rights. But neither are relational; that is, they do not consider the wellbeing of the other side when advocating for themselves.

It’s about me. My needs, my rights, my wants. Me. It is anti-relational when we don’t cherish and look out for each other, while honouring ourselves at the same time.

Relationalism does both. It considers how my rights, needs, and wants may impact the greater good of the relationship. There’s never power over, but rather, power to. There’s never “my rights”, but rather, “what’s the best for us and our relationship”. And there’s never “I don’t matter”, but rather, “we need each other because we are interdependent”. 

Unfortunately, in most relationships, this “me” mentality is prevalent. This is why 50% of marriages fail. And for the other half who stay married, 50% are unhappily married. But for the minority who adopt the “we” mentality of relationalism, they unlock the secret to a lifelong healthy and harmonious relationship.

So as unpopular as my opinion may be, for those who live relationally, they have found what all people are looking for in life, to know and be known, to love and be loved, to serve and be served, and to honour and be honoured. They are bound together by goodness and connectedness.

To learn the skills of relationalism, join me in the Connected Couple program where you will master the key principles and practices to overcome unhealthy patterns and create a healed, healthy, and harmonious relationship. Join the waitlist today.

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