The Barbie movie and all its hype is pretty well-deserved in my humble opinion. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should. I was expecting a lot of girl power stuff (and was not disappointed). What I wasn’t expecting was a demonstration of why extremes are so harmful, in any direction. I also wasn’t expecting to see confirmation of why shifting the balance of power is so necessary. But I did.
SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to give some things away about this movie.
I’ve been thinking about extremes lately, so this topic was already on my mind. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may want to stop reading here. At the beginning of the movie, it was clear that women ruled completely. The men were eye candy tokens who were only valued for their entertainment element. And really, they didn’t seem to be very valued even for that.
Through the movie, the power dynamics in Barbieland shift in favor of the men for a while. The women become valued only as eye candy tokens and their ability to make the men feel better about themselves. That dynamic hit me a little too close to home from some of my real-life experiences.
The exceptionally honest and accurate monologue from America Ferrera’s character hit me in all the feels. And I think that’s what many people took from the movie, as I’ve seen it quoted and celebrated many times. But I took something additional.
Near the end when Barbieland is restored, there’s a brief exchange between President Barbie and one of the Kens. Ken asks if he can be on the Supreme Court. She says no. Instead, she gives him a lower position. And in a line that many friends I’ve talked to missed, she points out that men will now “have about as much power as women do in real life.” Oof.
Where do we go from here?
Let’s bring this into real life and think about the workplace. We can only shift the larger dynamics through individual actions. The line, “Knowledge is power” has been around for ages. And many leaders and team members still live by that motto today. We hoard information to control the power dynamics. But the real result is that we strip people of their ability to fully participate, add value, and grow. Teams can only be at their best when that power, and information, is shared.
Who do you need to share more information with on your team?