‘Oppenheimer’ and the Work of Wives

In Oppenheimer, Nolan’s depiction of atomic history is credited to one man. We sometimes see women and wives, albeit as a backdrop. Emily Blunt and Frances Pugh do great work with very few words spoken. The women’s work in—in this case meaning their function—is sexual: as muse, mistress, mama. But any potential power in these roles shifts at the whims of men. The real performances of this film—science, law, politics, violence, espionage—are seen and spoken without them.

“What work do wives do? They understand male scientific and military might and destruction from the perspective of the unwitting receiver (or observer or support), which is the role most of us play.”

Barbie and My Midlife Crisis

This year has found me clinging to youth with more gusto than ever. One of my kids mused, “Why can’t you be like other middle-aged people?” I shrugged, but I guess it’s because I think you’re either young or old. And I know which one I’d choose. Then I saw Barbie.

Greta Gerwig’s film has been labeled a feminist triumph (or failure) and a manifesto against (or tool of) corporate capitalism, but for me, it’s all about my midlife crisis (or “transition” to be kind). In the film, Barbie finds herself having irrepressible thoughts of death—and before she knows it, her perfect body and her dream world start showing signs of Real World flaws. Outside of Barbieland, much of our collective panic about dwindling youth stems from a culture that glorifies being young while rendering older people—particularly women—invisible.

Keeping Score: California Funds College for Foster Youth; Katie Ledecky Surpasses Michael Phelps in World Titles; Anti-Abortion Leader Arrested for Child Sex Abuse

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in this biweekly roundup.

This week: Sen. Tuberville blocks 250 military promotions (and counting) in protest of a DOD policy to help service members who travel for reproductive care; Freedom to Vote Act reintroduced in Congress; Texas governor bans public drag performances; Taylor Swift has most No. 1 albums of any woman artist; California budget agreement will fund public college tuition and expenses for foster youth in the state; Barbie opening weekend brings in more at box office than any other woman-directed film; Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky surpasses Michael Phelps in individual world golds; rest in power: Sinéad O’Connor, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Katie Early and Cheri Pies; and more.

What Boys and Men Can Learn from Ken

The Barbie movie reveals one of the patriarchy’s dirty little secrets: Not only does the patriarchy exclude and punish women; but it also harms men who don’t meet the very narrow definitions of ‘manhood’ that are most favored.

Millions of men have already seen the movie and enjoyed it immensely. This success is a testament to our ability to laugh at ourselves and some of the less attractive features of male-dominated cultures, without crying foul and embracing an unearned victim status.

Girl Bond Summer: Taylor, Barbie and Power of Collective Joy

Girls are showing up, shaping popular culture for the better. Their choices tell us about friendship, connection, and how to forge joy in this world.

Of course, the power of girls as consumers and taste-makers isn’t new. And life remains pretty damn hard for young people. But when I see the Swifties in their ecstatic thrall, or the pink-clad Barbie hordes stampeding toward the theater, I think: We could all use a little more of that sincerity and exuberance in our lives.

Summer at the Movies: On the Successes and Failures of Imagination

Despite our collective love for larger-than-life motion pictures, I must lament the dearth of images of Black women in heroic, star-turning roles.

But in Barbieland, a topsy-turvy world where women run things—in contrast to the “real world” of patriarchy—we can imagine women in every possible role. Let’s hope Barbie’s commercial success encourages more support for films that feature diverse women as big-screen heroes. There are so many more stories to be told.