From the people who brought you “slavery ended a long time ago so stop complaining about racism,” here’s Bill Maher to declare that talking about systems that oppress women is so year 2000, yawn. He was evidently not a fan of the Barbie film, which he called “preachy” and “man-hating” before doing on a long Twitter screed about what he calls hashtag “zombie lies.”

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“What is a Zombie Lie?” Maher asks in the place of nobody. “Something that never was true, but certain people refuse to stop saying it (tax cuts for the rich increase revenues, e.g.); OR something that USED to be true but no longer is, but certain people pretend it’s still true.”

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According to Maher, the zombie lie in Barbie is that the patriarchy is still a thing in the U.S. or the larger world, because did you know that there are plenty of lady bosses, too?

“Spoiler alert, Barbie fights the Patriarchy. Right up to the Mattel board who created her, consisting of 12 white men! The Patriarchy! Except there’s a Mattel board in real life, and it’s 7 men and 5 women. OK, not perfect even-steven, but not the way the board IN THE MOVIE – which takes place in 2023 – is portrayed. And not really any longer deserving of the word ‘patriarchy.'”

If there’s one thing us womenfolk love, it’s when men declare what does or does not deserve to be labeled by that term.

What Maher betrays here is that his understanding of the concept of a patriarchal society is every bit as shallow as his understanding of systemic racism and other forms of ingrained systems of societal oppression and privilege. A patriarchal society is not defined by how many lady persons are in the boardroom in proportion to men. While Maher is technically correct about the current Mattel board of directors, it’s a little bit more complex than that, buddy.

But if this one simple metric is conveniently the only way you determine if sexism is still a problem, then it’s so easy to declare that sexism is over! Or close enough, so stop whining, girls!

“Yes, there was one, and remnants of it remain – but this movie is so 2000-LATE,” Maher announces.

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Also, you’re not allowed to be put off by the fact that Maher is a man, because he talked to one of these “women” people about it, and she agreed with him on something.

“At one point the Barbies have to win over the Kens, and they are told to do it by pretending to act helpless and not know how to do stuff. Helen Gurley Brown called, she wants her premise back. Yes, that WAS a thing. I saw ‘Barbie’ with a woman in her 30s who said, ‘I don’t know a single woman of any age who would act like that today.'”

Maher goes on to admonish women for being silly by thinking that systemic misogyny is still a thing and to ignore that stubborn pay gap problem because there are almost just as many ladies on boards in various companies as men, and he has established that this is all that matters. And we’re not allowed to tell him off for being a man, because he’s just “just staying true to CURRENT reality” and we’re simply being hysterical, probably because of our periods, and should calm down.

This argument did not go over well with many women or others who understand what the word “patriarchy” means.

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*First Published: August 9, 2023, 11:16 am