When was the last time you watched a movie with a solid feminist message?
When it comes to Hollywood, females are usually underrepresented, or if they do appear, represented in a negative or objectifying light. Adolescents are particularly observant of information presented in entertainment and media because they are beginning to shape their views and understanding of topics like gender, race, social class, and sexuality. Therefore, it’s extremely important that there is content for all ages that promotes positive messages like equality and diversity.
I’ve rounded up favorite movies from my childhood that may not be considered your typical feminist films, but still had a significant impact on my “feminist awakening” while growing up.
Some could argue that Legally Blonde is promoting sexist stereotypes by casting a fashion-focused blonde society girl who is fixated on her recent breakup with her boyfriend. In response, I think they’ve missed the message that lies beneath the conventional image of a young woman.
The movie is built off women empowerment and support, self-acceptance, the realization of self-potential, and fighting for personal morals and beliefs. Just one example of this is when Elle Woods was persistent about getting into Harvard Law even after many people told her it wasn’t possible. However, there were a few women stood by her side. Her guidance counselor showed her support by advising her further steps to complete her application process and her sorority sisters were more than willing to help Woods study for her LSATs.
During my pre-teen years I didn’t think I could be a “true feminist” because enjoyed fashion, makeup, and other feminine things. For me, Woods was the first character in media that ultimately broke the stigma that one can’t be a feminist while still being feminine.
Many other blogs and publications have credited Woods as a modern feminist icon, and I couldn’t agree more.
Matilda is a strong female character which is continuously shown through her insane amount of intelligence and maturity at such as young age. She could read by the age of three and solve complicated math problems in her head at the age of five.
The movie gets five out of five stars on feminism when Matilda overcomes her sexist family members. She was taught by her father that little girls must be seen and not heard. Her parents attempted to keep her away from school by making her stay home every day, in which Matilda retaliates by visiting the library after her parents left for work. While I learned in real life that not everyone is as fortunate to find an immediate solution against sexist behavior, the movie taught me it’s still worth trying.
I also highly praise this movie for featuring females uniting together during a time of need for support. When Matilda finally is able to attend school, she meets Ms. Honey—a meek yet clever teacher who was also abused by her family. The two unite and quickly form a powerful bond that becomes a defining relationship in the movie.
The Cheetah Girls
The Cheetah Girls’ main message is to always support your sisters. And by sisters, they meant friends, family, and any other woman. This original Disney Channel movie is about four young women coming together though the power of music and friendship, as they formed a pop band called The Cheetah Girls.
This movie taught me that instead of being in competition with other girls, we should be encouraging one other. Because in the end, we are more powerful standing as group than standing alone.
Plus, you have to admit, their songs are extremely catchy.
10 Things I Hate About You
Let’s be honest, Kat Stratford may have been the most popular role model for young girls who grew up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She’s intelligent, blunt and walks to the beat of her own drum. Stratford’s message is a powerful when she tells her sister, “I’m a firm believer in doing things for your own reasons and not someone else’s.”
This movie taught me, like many of the other movies, feminists don’t have to look or behave one certain way. There are endless ways for anyone to stand for equality or what’s right, so putting a face to a “typical feminist” can be difficult.
Akeelah and the Bee
I’m very surprised this movie didn’t receive more attention when it first came out back in 2006, because Akeelah Anderson may as well been the definition of girl power. Anderson was gifted with a brilliant mind at a young age, as she could spell the most comprehensive words forward and backwards without thinking twice. Dr. Joshua Larabee befriends Anderson and becomes her mentor to help her succeed to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
This movie spoke to me because it has a strong female character learning the importance of pursing her dreams, even when times get tough. Anderson eventually comes realization of her own abilities and talents with the support of her friends, family and mentor. Anderson taught me to never underestimate myself, so for that, I thank her.
In the comments below, be sure share a favorite childhood or current movie that shaped your views on feminism.