Shakira attends the Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran release party in March 2024

Shakira Misses the Point of ‘Barbie,’ Claims It Was ‘Emasculating’ for Her Sons

Singer and songwriter Shakira recently gave her take on Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Unfortunately, she seemed to miss the point as she claimed it was “emasculating” for her young sons.

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Ever since Barbie premiered last year, it has caused much division and public discourse. However, it also attained high critical acclaim, earning multiple Oscar nominations and becoming the highest-grossing film of 2023. The film follows a Barbie doll (Margot Robbie) who becomes disillusioned by life in Barbieland and eventually travels to the real world on a journey of self-discovery. Her foray into the real world leads to Ken (Ryan Gosling) being exposed to the patriarchy, which has a disastrous impact on the initially matriarchal society of Barbieland.

In reality, Barbie should have never been such a divisive movie in the first place. It’s a largely family-friendly, hilarious, and energetic movie. Granted, it does broach concepts of feminism and features a predominantly female cast who are all career women and influential leaders. However, it’s a fun and mostly introductory way of broaching feminism. Of course, it still irritated conservative man-babies, like Ben Shapiro, who burned Barbie dolls and went on rants about how the movie scared them. The outcry against Barbie wasn’t solely from conservative males, though. Even women like Shakira seemed to miss the point of the film and the importance of exposing their sons to the movie’s concepts.

Why Shakira and her sons disliked Barbie

Ryan Gosling waving wearing the "I Am Kenough" sweatshirt
(Warner Bros.)

In an interview with Allure magazine, Shakira opened up about her feelings on Barbie. The mother of two revealed she took her sons to see the movie but claimed that they “absolutely hated it” and “felt that it was emasculating.” Meanwhile, she agreed with their take on Barbie, stating, “I’m raising two boys. I want ’em to feel powerful too [while] respecting women. I like pop culture when it attempts to empower women without robbing men of their possibility to be men, to also protect and provide. I believe in giving women all the tools and the trust that we can do it all without losing our essence, without losing our femininity.”

The singer went on to explain that she believed men and women each have a specific purpose in society and are meant to “complement each other.” While acknowledging that women “can do it all,” Shakira suggested they shouldn’t do it all but should share “the load with people who deserve to carry it.” She’s not entirely wrong, as men and women certainly should support each other and contribute to, and work as equals in, society. Still, it is difficult to understand her claim that Barbie was emasculating for her sons.

Despite many claims, Barbie is not supposed to be emasculating to men. While it does focus on empowering women, there is also some male empowerment in the movie. After all, a large portion is about Ken finding his own worth instead of tying it up in Barbie. The main point is that men can be empowered without having to take away from the power of women. It seems far less empowering to say that men are only men if they “protect and provide,” leading men to feel threatened and irrelevant by strong, independent women who can also protect and provide.

Meanwhile, one can’t help but wonder how her sons, who are ages 9 and 11, are even familiar with the concept of “emasculating.” It’s understandable that a young boy might find the movie uninteresting or unlikable, but it really shouldn’t evoke such strong feelings in one so young. Sadly, Shakira’s statements may be an example of parents projecting their own feelings or narrow views of masculinity onto their children.

Her opinion on Barbie is even stranger given that she has spoken out before in support of feminism. In the same interview she criticized Barbie, she also slammed the misogyny of the biblical story of Eve and how it was created to put “women in the little box” where they are forced to be silent and apologetic. Based on this statement, one would think the themes in Barbie would also be clear to Shakira.

(featured image: Mireya Acierto/Getty)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.