The new posters for Greta Gerwig’s upcoming “Barbie” movie feature a slew of Barbies who are accomplished politicians, writers and Pulitzer Prize-winners, while the Kens are just… Kens.
“She’s everything. He’s just Ken,” the film poster’s tagline reads.
Promotion for “Barbie,” slated for release July 21, went viral Tuesday as the second trailer debuted alongside individual graphics for each character. “This Barbie is a doctor,” one reads. “This Barbie is a Supreme Court Justice,” another says. None of the several Ken dolls has any sort of identifier other than being an accessory to Barbie.
Women online have responded in droves to the tagline, which many feel represents the unbalanced burden women sometimes carry in relationships with men.
“Women overall take on more in a relationship than men do,” says Damona Hoffman, a dating coach and host of the Dates & Mates podcast. “This is not the case for all relationships but many still fall into the trap of telling women ‘you can have it all – you just still need to do all the other work, too.’ ”
Life in plastic isn’t always fantastic
“He’s just Ken” has been fodder for plenty of online jokes and memes. Some users are pairing the tagline with famous fictional and celebrity couples they think fit the “everything vs. just Ken” dynamic: Elle and Warner from “Legally Blonde,” Jo and Laurie from Gerwig’s iteration of “Little Women,” even Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
There’s humor in the way the film is being promoted and discussed, but many fans think that’s because it comes from a place of truth: women in relationships with men often feel they carry the bulk of the mental load or household labor.
“I definitely think it’s accurate to say that not just some but most women, based on years of research, indicate that they pull more weight than their male partners,” says licensed family and marriage therapist Virginia Williamson.
According to the Pew Research Center, 74% of mothers say they do more to manage their children’s schedules and activities than their spouse. Only 3% say their husband or partner does more. And 59% of mothers say they do more household chores than their spouse, with 6% saying their spouse does more.
“Women go into relationships hoping that men will change and men going to relationships hoping that women won’t,” Williamson adds. “Enjoy your dating life and all of the fun and spontaneity that comes with that but be sure that you’re being true to yourself and what you need in a partner, whether that means equitability in who initiates plans or finances those plans, through who prepares a meal at home and cleans up after the meal is enjoyed.”
How can couples better balance relationships?
How can couples work together to balance expectations? “Communication is everything,” Hoffman says.
“Women are sometimes afraid to speak up because they don’t want to scare someone away or cause conflict,” she adds. “(But) when you need something from your partner and don’t express it, that seeds future conflict.”
And for those seeking relationships, experts stress the importance of having early-on conversations about “trust, communication, shared values and common goals for the future,” all of which are vital traits for long-term compatibility, Hoffman says.
Williamson adds: “It’s not only OK but also imperative to have expectations and to feel comfortable to express those expectations in relationships so there isn’t as much room for ambiguity, hurt feelings and resentment.”
More on Barbie, relationships and gender dynamics
Who gets to be a Barbie doll? New all-pink Barbiecore trend invites everyone to the Dream House
‘Welcome to Barbie Land’:Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling bring Barbie and Ken to life in ‘Barbie’ trailer
More:Woman’s grocery list for husband goes viral and sparks conversation about men’s ‘strategic incompetence’
And:Ask these questions before your relationship becomes exclusive
Contributing: Alia E. Dastagir