BARBIE -THE PERFECT SPEECH
WARNING! SPOILER ALERT– if you haven’t seen the blockbuster of the year, nor familiar with “the speech” you may not want to read any further.
America Ferrera’s powerful Barbie monologue has everyone talking. In my opinion, it was the moment that stole the show.
There’s not one woman in my life who these words aren’t true for. Not a single one!
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! 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.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us….
These words left me sad, mad and, most of all, wondering what men’s reaction would be to this satirical exploration of the patriarchy.
In the post#MeTooEra, there’s the sense people (men) are tired of stories about misconduct and just how badly women have been done by.
I get it. I’m tired of it too!!
I’m tired that:
- The Gender Pay Gap hasn’t changed in two decades. In 2002, women earned 80 cents to the dollar made by men, and in 2022 it’s 82 cents (Pew Research Mar.1.2023)
- For every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager only 87 women were promoted. (82 if you are a woman of colour) (Women in the Workplace 2022 -McKinsey Report in partnership with Leanin.org)
- Women are still underrepresented in the C-Suite: 1 in 4 C-Suite leaders are women (McKinsey – Women in the Work Place 2022)
- Women’s earnings tend to plateau midcareer, while men’s continue to climb (Bureau of Labor Statistics, US. 2023)
- In a meta-analysis of dozens of studies, women who asserted their ideas, made direct requests and advocated for themselves, they were judged as less hirable. Although they were seen as equally competent, they were liked less than men who engaged in the exact same behaviors.
I didn’t have to wait long for men to weigh in on the movie. You may have heard comedian and political commentator, Bill Maher, hated it, taking to the platform-formerly-known-as-Twitter to crank out a 365-word review, slamming it as “man-hating”, “preachy”, and implied that the “patriarchy” is a thing of the past, adding, “I can see the world around me, and I can read data, 45% of the 449 board seats filled last year in Fortune 500 companies were women.”
He appears to have conveniently misread a recent report commissioned by Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity. The correct data –of all Fortune 500 companies, the report concluded only 22 percent have board seats given to women and minorities, while 78 percent of board seats were held by white men.
I also doubt that Maher paid any attention to the Opinion piece in the July 31st edition of the New York Times, by Wharton, Organizational Psychologist, Adam Grant.
Professor Grant wrote of new evidence showing it’s not ambition per se that women are being penalized for. The problem arises if people perceive them to be forceful, controlling, commanding and outspoken, qualities for which men are regularly given a pass, but they put women at risk of being disliked and denied for leadership roles. (Not surprisingly, the backlash is even stronger when a woman is Black.) Instead of being judged just on their performance, they are dinged for their personality. Overbearing. Too abrasive. Sharp elbows.
Professor Grant points out, “Assertiveness is advocating for yourself. Aggressiveness is attacking others. Standing up for yourself isn’t pushy — it means you’re not a pushover. It’s not a selfish act but an act of self-preservation,”
I’m tired that there’s still a need to write about the silent expectations (as brilliantly outlined in The Speech) women have been forced to contend with for decades and continue to do so.
I’m tired of men like Bill Maher (full disclosure I’ve long been a huge fan, alas he disappoints) who are obviously clueless. So easy to claim that the patriarchy is no longer when you’re a man.
I’m tired when a man, who issues orders is known as tough and hard charging. A woman who speaks authoritatively still gets branded as over-bearing and nagging.
I echo Grant’s last sentence of his opinion piece, “I hope for a day when we no longer need articles like this. I might be wrong, but it’s probably time to stop penalizing women who speak their minds … don’t you think?”
Many of you are aware that I often write about challenges women face in the work force. When I heard director and writer, Greta Gerwig’s “Feminist Manifesto” for current times (aka The Speech), I immediately knew another blog was warranted.
I have a lot more to say, but I shall end it here before I’m accused of being too “preachy”.
“What’s the difference between being assertive and being aggressive? Your gender.”
……Cartoonist Judy Horacek