Shabnam Kulsoom went to see the Barbie movie so you don’t have to. The feminist, sexualised fitna is very real, she writes, seeking to corrupt young girls and belittle men.
In 1959 toy manufacturer Mattel debuted the “Barbie” doll – a cleaner, more palatable version of Bild Lilli, a German fantasy sex doll. Barbie came in the shape of a white, blonde, blue-eyed, tanned-to-perfection plastic figure deemed to be the “perfect woman” for every young girl to own and aspire towards.
This was meant to be the ideal woman – everything about her, from her looks to her skimpy outfits to her careers, her dream houses and destination holidays with on/off boyfriend “Ken.”
Fast forward 64 years, and millions of Barbie sales later, Barbie the Movie has been unleashed on the world amid a furore of excitement.
It is rated 12A “Moderate innuendo, brief sexual harassment, implied strong language” (that’s not at all concerning for parents, is it?), directed by Greta Gerwig, and with Australian actor Margot Robbie playing the lead role of “Stereotypical Barbie.”
Given that I’ve been hearing multiple reports of Muslim mums taking their daughters to see this film (dressed in pink of course), it sparked my interest to see exactly what message the movie was promoting to us females and Muslims in general.
And now having watched it I can confidently say: Brothers and sisters, do not watch it. The fitna is real from the very beginning.
The storyline is loosely based around The Wizard of Oz, with Barbie (white, blonde, perfect face, perfect teeth, perfect nose, perfect body) waking up one day to find her perfect, pink little world run by women for women is no longer a reality. Instead she feels emotions; she feels pain. Even her legendary feet have given up on her – Barbie loses the ability to raise them in her posture-breaking heels.
After consulting “Weird Barbie,” off she goes with her main Ken doll (played by Ryan Gosling) following the Pink Brick Road on an adventure into the Real World (incidentally run by men). And here is where reality bites both Barbie and Ken. Fantasy life versus real-life, where Barbie finds that women do not run the show like in Barbie Land and an awakening for Ken to see patriarchy in practise. And of course he loves it.
But away from the bubblegum, candy-coated pinkness of the film, there lies a message that we have now become all too familiar with – a message of female empowerment. Feminism. Gender roles. Sexualisation. Superficiality. In the words of Beyonce “Who run the world? Girls.” A female empowerment, uber-cringe anthem.
And this fantasy film goes further to intentionally demonstrate the various roles and spaces women could potentially fill in their ideal world with men featuring minimally. Men fulfilling only the role of Ken the doll; a man doll who, in his various versions, is incredibly dense underneath the tan and washboard stomach.
‘She’s everything. He’s just a Ken’
Let us posit the following questions: Why is it that the female director has portrayed all the Kens as unintelligent, emasculated dolls? What is she telling us about men?
Why are all the various Barbies single? Why are all the Barbies without children? A reference is made very early on to “Pregnant Barbie” not being popular and consequently being discontinued. Is the notion of a pregnant woman being phased out?
Why are all the Barbies career-focused Barbies? Where are the traditional “home-maker” Barbies? Is this the fantasy that all women crave? Are women truly happy and fulfilled at the end? How many women have lived this reality and in the end, alone with a cat or a dog for a companion, regretted it?
Make no mistake, nothing about this film is unintentional. The music soundtrack uses highly sexualised female entertainers, with Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice to keep the message of female empowerment flowing as the credits roll at the end.
The lyrics are filthy. From every angle, the film is screaming to its young audience (predominantly very young, easily influenced girls) that you can be a girly girl, successful, sexualised and do and achieve everything without or with the least/minimal input from a man. Without being a wife but having an on/off boyfriend, without having children, only focusing on the superficial and advancing in all careers except the traditional role for women. Is this really the dream of every woman?
And on the subject of superficiality, who sets the standard of perfect looks? An ever-changing, Western liberal standard? The MEN who run the fashion houses? The media-mogul MEN? The MALE plastic surgeons using the “golden ratio” to dissect and inject women’s faces? If the idea is for feminists to eradicate men from the whole picture (or at least most of it), why pander to the ideas set by the MEN at the top of every game?
In the name of inclusivity, the director has baited the Muslim female audience by giving us a token Muslim hijabi BAME Barbie in the row of Barbies. For any Muslim sisters excited about this very brief representation (blink and you’ll miss her) and planning to watch the film, I have gone through the pain of watching it so you don’t have to.
Seeing a brief shot of a brown hijabi Barbie did not fill me with any kind of pride. The only thing it did bring to mind was knowing that had I ever owned a Barbie, my mother would have swiftly made a scarf and tiny pair of trousers for her to cover her modesty! Yes, it is a funny thought, but our elders were well ahead of the game despite how simple-minded we may have thought they were coming from the tribal ends.
No doubt there are Muslim mothers who will be taking their young daughters to watch this film. Yes, I understand how easy it is to get swept up in all the excitement, but what are you hoping to gain from taking your young, impressionable girls to watch it?
Anyone who is a parent knows exactly how incredibly easily children (male or female) can be influenced. Do you want your girls to look and dress like Barbie? Do you want them to behave like Barbie? Do you want to put ideas into their heads of how to “play” men in order to assert power and dominance over them? That’s what all the Barbies plan when Ken turns Barbie Land into the patriarchy of Kendom.
Do you want the idea to be planted that it is ok to be unmarried, without children, have an emasculated guy hanging around you who you occasionally flirt and use sexual innuendos with, focusing only on the superficial things in life like how you look physically?
Do you want them singing filthy lyrics from the soundtrack? Have you sat your daughters down and told them about the female Muslim role models they can aspire to be like? Have you told them the role of a Muslim woman and the importance of being a wife and mother? Have you told them the importance of Muslim women having Islamic knowledge, of maintaining hayaa (modesty) in front of men in both character and dress? Have you told them how Allah SWT has honoured believing women?
This may seem a little bit of an over-reaction to what looks like a pink, fun, fluffy film, but please do not get distracted. There is always an agenda at play. Just look at how the Alphabet Agenda has crept into every facet of our lives and the resulting confusion – yes there is even a Trans Barbie in the movie.
As parents, our primary responsibility towards our children is to protect them from all types of harm and indeed haram to the best of our ability. Take away all the candyfloss, glitter and sparkly fun of this film and you are left with a message that seeks only to ruin a generation of women and reduce men in their value.
As Muslims guided by Allah SWT and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we have been given our roles specific to our genders. We have been told what it means to be a person of beauty, good character, high value, and what is the correct and only valid relationship between a man and a woman in the sight of the Almighty.
Let us not allow anyone else to set morality and standards for us, least of all the feminists and multi-millionaire liberal movie-makers with agendas.