America Ferrara defended 'Barbie' from "basic feminism" critiques.

America Ferrera Defended Barbie's "Basic" Take On Feminism

"There are a lot of people who need Feminism 101."

Barbie received a lot of praise for its feminist parable when it first hit theaters... but it also sparked some backlash. Numerous reviews dinged the plot for its oversimplified take on feminism, calling it “surface-level,” “shallow,” and “pastiche.” Sure, the movie about oblivious dolls discovering the patriarchy isn’t exactly nuanced in its approach — but who ever said it was going for nuance? After hearing the critiques, America Ferrera defended Barbie’s “Feminism 101” way of getting its point across.

In Barbie, Ferrera’s character Gloria delivers what has become recognized as the film’s thesis statement. Her minutes-long rant at the movie’s climax delineates all the hypocritical impossibilities of existing as a woman in the patriarchy. The monologue received praise from most moviegoers, but some called it “basic feminism.”

When Ferrera was asked about the less glowing responses to her big moment in a Jan. 1 New York Times profile, she noted how the movie’s more remedial approach to feminism was part of its power.

“We can know things and still need to hear them out loud. It can still be a cathartic,” Ferrera said. “There are a lot of people who need Feminism 101, whole generations of girls who are just coming up now and who don’t have words for the culture that they’re being raised in. Also, boys and men who may have never spent any time thinking about feminist theory. If you are well-versed in feminism, then it might seem like an oversimplification, but there are entire countries that banned this film for a reason.”

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Ferrera then flipped the critique on its head.

“To say that something that is maybe foundational, or, in some people’s view, basic feminism isn’t needed is an oversimplification,” Ferrera said. “Assuming that everybody is on the same level of knowing and understanding the experience of womanhood is an oversimplification.”

So, was Barbie the perfect, intersectional, fourth-wave-feminist movie that checked off every single box? No, of course not. But as Ferrera said, it was never supposed to be that — so many people still need to pass Feminism 101 first.