I Rewrote The Barbie Speech For A Man
The platitudes work both ways.
America Ferrera’s speech in Barbie about how “it is literally impossible to be a woman” is being heralded as the most important feminist monologue of our time.
Take a look.
Now try it this way.
It is literally impossible to be a man. You are so strong and so capable, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we always have to be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be ripped but not too ripped. And you can never say you want to be ripped. You have to say you want to be fit, but also you have to be ripped—though nothing’s more important than being tall.
You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because you shouldn’t have to ask. You should just earn it and keep earning it.
You have to be a boss, but you can’t be an asshole. You have to lead, but you can’t be seen as a bully or as insensitive or old-fashioned or “just not getting it.”
You’re supposed to love being a dad, but god help you if you want to stay home with your kids, or take paternity leave.
You have to be in touch with your feminine side but also be the protector.
You have to answer for women’s bad behavior, which is insane—like sometimes literally insane—but if you point that out, you’re accused of not listening, not caring enough, of gaslighting.
You’re supposed to be good-looking for women but not so good-looking that you seem unserious or vain or like you’re overcompensating for something else.
You have to distinguish yourself without seeming like you’re trying too hard. You have to make your accomplishments known without bragging or coming across as desperate.
You have to win at the game while making sure to say that you know the system is rigged in your favor. You have to say this even if it’s not rigged anymore, or at least doesn’t feel that way. Or maybe it is rigged, which means you don’t actually deserve anything you’ve ever gotten. But you got it anyway. Or maybe you didn’t, But in either case, you have to be grateful.
You have to understand that for all this power you supposedly have, you don’t actually have much power when you’re young. You have to grow into your power, and until then, you endure years of humiliation. And still, you have to time things just right because “older” is not the same as “old.” Older can work for a while, but once you hit old, you go back to being humiliated and stay that way until the end.
You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never cross a boundary without permission. It’s too dangerous! It’s too contradictory, and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you!
And it turns out, in fact, that not only are you doing everything wrong but also everything is your fault.
(End of speech.)
More thoughts below.
I wrote this yesterday after seeing the Barbie movie. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered to see a new release in the theater, but so many people wanted me to talk