Feminists hate Barbie. This is the doll that has brainwashed countless women to make themselves over as domestic goddesses with hourglass figures. We may be now questioning the stereotype, but the ‘Barbie’ movie is climbing the charts and raking in money.

Diehard feminists like me have watched it in full, without flinging something at the screen. How did this happen? It was a young friend, a management graduate, who offered an explanation.

For her, the movie is a “clever repositioning of Barbie for contemporary values… a case study for marketing. And, “because of that agenda, a lost opportunity to genuinely create a dialogue on authenticity and feminism”.

This is an original take on the film, and it persuaded me to give it a fresh look. Is the movie merely an attempt to revive the flagging commercial fortunes of the Barbie doll, which was being jettisoned by its one and only customer?I can certainly identify clever gimmicks used by filmmaker (and dollmaker) Mattel that serve this purpose.

The company has put space between the doll and the movie without abandoning the benefits of brand recognition. It has avoided apologising for earlier biases, so as not to offend those who had once been devotees of the doll.

Gloria, the Mattel employee, is troubled by fond memories of her childhood toy, which has been thrown out by a modern daughter. The two are then coupled together in the quest for an improbable, and unconvincing, reconciliation in the usual Hollywood fashion.

Mattel would certainly like millenials to move on and let bygones be bygones. The company is also smart enough to distance itself from the product's worst excesses.

The filmmaker takes on the role of amused observer spying on an all-male Mattel Board, as it lays down strategy from an office eyrie and Directors rush down to Barbieland to prevent inmates from escaping into the real world.

The action of the movie is confined to these two distinct spaces, with Mattel owning responsibility only for what happens in toyland. A fallacious but common business argument, since companies and their executives can influence and modify not just their creations, but the environment in which they themselves operate. There is an occasional wink in this direction, but it remains on the periphery.

Mattel reveals masculine cunning, when it shifts the blame for creating a stereotypical product by repeatedly insisting that Barbie was invented by a woman. Ergo, "we (men) are not the guilty party, you (women) are".

The current feminist narrative of women pioneers being overlooked and forgotten is also appropriated by housing the creator of Barbie in a basement room among "homely" interests.

Barbieworld created by Mattel should be anathema to feminists. We are taken aback, however, by the suddenness with which it bursts on us from the very start in awful pink glory in a paean to role reversal.

Barbies rule the kingdom and Kens serve them. Mattel, like most men who are threatened by feminism, views it as a battle of the sexes, where one gender must win at the cost of the other.

When troubled Stereotypical Barbie ventures out of Barbieland, Ken sneaks out too, in a repetition of the countless stories in which obsessed women become helpmeets of male heroes in thrilling adventures. But Ken is seduced by the authority enjoyed by men in the Real World.

He imports their ideas to Barbieland and sets it on its head, with ‘Kens’ in command being waited on by Barbies. Predictably, matters are resolved by cunning and brawn through stirring scenes of battle and seduction.

All wrong of course! Because, feminism is not role reversal. It is an individualist ideology in which every person is free to pick her own inclinations and path through life.

Why was I wasting time watching Kens and Barbies discovering this in the course of a movie? When I should have been concentrating on a far more insidious effect of the Barbie commercial model-its insistence on a one-size-fits-all approach to the doll.

Mattel can have an assured market only if every girl owns a Barbie. The toy is meant for all women. No boy would be seen dead with one. (Although,my granddaughter says that a male character in the serial "Friends" admits to having played with a Barbie).

Feminists should dislike Barbie because it limits their choices. In the real world, men have a far wider range of toys and stereotypes than women. Letting go of this feature of Barbie means certain death for the company. Which is why it has invented and reinvented Barbie with all kinds of variations-in appearance and costumes.

But women are varied and diverse. In ideas, thoughts, preferences, inclinations. And looks too. Mattel has hidden this truth. It has raked over the plenitude of women's opinions by placing all their perceived concerns in a single basket.

Barbie the movie has a disjointed look, because it has no approach or focus of its own. It is our priorities and preferences that lead us to pick what we enjoy and dislike from the common hamper.

And so, none of us can praise or reject the movie in its entirety. What each enjoys may seem trite or even dangerous to others. I vibed with the movie most at the feminist tirade reminiscent of Shylock's famous “hath not a Jew eyes?” speech in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

Great theatre, but patently flawed, since nothing justified Shylock taking a pound of flesh from his hated rival, just as nothing justifies placing men under the heel in Barbieland as they have done to women in the real world. And I totally disagree with the declaration that it's ok for women to be "just mothers". No it isn't, as it reduces them to a function ordained only by their bodies, with no element of choice or inclination.

Again, I thoroughly disliked the ending of the movie, which identified women only by their physical selves, the very principle that I have fought all my life. The friend who set me on the path to seeing the commercial thrust of the Barbie narrative totally disagrees.

For her, the high spot of the movie is its ending, which stresses the importance of women's bodies. So much for an identical worldview for every member of the sisterhood!

So, I say, as Mattel doesn't: Vive la difference! Give us several toys. Not just the one Barbie.