I haven’t posted in so long. I guess I’ve needed a break from the anger. So, for a change of pace... here's something fun. I’ve started to think about movies that I’ve watched through the years that have helped me understand my feelings on feminism. Some funny, some serious but all great films.
This post is going to be a series. I have other movies and TV shows I’d like to add but here they are for now… these movies are great for men and women who enjoy great cinema and embrace feminist values.
Iron Jawed Angels- Best movie ever. It should be required to watch in high school classrooms. My high school history teacher told me that women were “given” the vote in 1920. What a load of hooey! Watch this movie and you’ll see just how hard women like Alice Paul had to fight for women to vote. Being wrongfully imprisoned and tortured for starters… This movie is very informative, very entertaining and very moving!!! Fave scene: The suffrage parade where a woman on a horse leads groups of women, some in cap and gown, some in their country’s traditional dress down the streets of D.C. with Lauren Hill music playing… I get goosebumps every time.
A League of Their Own – Strong, athletic, competitive, beautiful, muscular, raw… FEMALE athletes in the 1940s. A funny story more about the relationship these women form as teammates, and most importantly the two sisters who are the focus of the story. But if you watch closely, you’ll also get the message of female independence, a desire to be seen not as different, or less worthy but seen as equal. Fave Scene: There’s a very well done scene where a young black woman throws a baseball so hard it actually hurts the catcher’s hand. You see the looks of amazement from all the women on the team (all of whom are white) and you realize that these women have once again been awakened to prejudice.
Legally blonde- Beautiful, perfect sorority girl has guy. Loses guy. Decides to get guy back. Learns in the process that she is smarter, cooler than doofus guy ever was. Girl becomes secure, powerful lawyer even though she is (gasp) blonde, beautiful and ultra perky. Who knew? Fave scene: A mean girl tricks Elle (Reese Witherspoon) into showing up at a party in costume. When she makes fun of her look Elle bites back, “You look great too. Except when I dress up as a frigid bitch, I try not to look so constipated.”
Anne of Green Gables – I don’t care if anyone makes fun of me for loving this schmaltz-fest... I love this movie and it is good! Anne was my hero growing up. She was strong and very smart. And even though it bothered some of the other boys that she was different, strong and smart, she didn’t care. Anne was never afraid to go her own way as an independent woman, turning down marriage proposals to pursue a career and a life in a bigger city. Although, when the time comes, she’s not afraid to do what’s right for her... return home and marry her childhood love. Fave scene: When Gilbert “rescues” Anne from the water, she doesn’t let him off the hook, “The fact that you rescued me, unnecessarily, hardly wipes out past wrongs.”
Vera Drake— Set in 1950’s England; Vera is a selfless woman who is completely devoted to her working class family. She is a caregiver to everyone in her life, new neighbors, sick friends and her elderly mother. She also secretly visits women and helps induce miscarriages. In 1950’s England abortion was legal but very expensive. Vera provided a safe method for “girls who need help.” She doesn’t even take money for it. Vera always treats these women with a smile and kind words. When she is found out and brought to trial we see just how this affects her family. When she is in prison, she meets other women jailed for providing illegal abortions but realizes that the fight must continue or more women will die. Favorite scene: Her family sits talking about abortions. A friend of the family says thoughtfully, “Me mum brought up six of us in two rooms. If you can't feed 'em, you can't love 'em, now can you?”
Real Women Have Curves—Ana is a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman. She lives in Los Angeles. After she graduates high school, she is offered a scholarship to Columbia University but her traditional parents disapprove of her moving away and leaving their family. Her mother wants her to help at her sister’s sewing factory which is little better than a sweatshop making dresses that wouldn’t fit one woman in Ana’s family. Through that experience, Ana learns a lot about the “values” of corporate America. Her mother is always harping on her to lose weight so she can get a husband but Ana teaches her family that her real qualities are in her wit, education and truly, she is beautiful. Fave scene: When Ana gets all the women at work to strip down to their underwear in the hot sewing factory and celebrate their curves.
Westward the women—An old 1950’s Cowboys and Indians movie with a twist. Back in the day where the west meant “Texas,” men settling out in California needed wives. They sent a wagon train to bring women from the East to live with them and marry. Over one hundred women go on a wagon train journey through desert, Rocky Mountains and some Indian attacks. It's old, so not entirely politically correct, especially when it comes to portraying Native Americans. However, I love how the women in the movie transform from society gals in New York to hardened pioneer women that can survive just about anything. A great idea for a movie today would be what happened after the women arrived… interesting, maybe I could write a script. Hollywood anyone?