This week, Flavorwire released a list of “50 Essential Feminist Films.” Now, Flavorwire’s list is probably very respectable for film buffs, but for someone who still calls talking pictures “movies,” their selections may be a bit too cerebral.
Looking through the list, one might think that feminist theory had only influenced the most obscure of movies — the kind shown in the type of movie theatre where you can purchase red wine with your popcorn (if they sell popcorn, because everyone knows that such a snack is too-too passé).
Because, to the deep chagrin of religious right-wingers and hand-wringers, feminism is everywhere, my friends . . . including in main-stream movies!
For “Half-Way”‘s list, I’ve selected just a few of the movies that I’ve personally seen and loved . . . that played a part in shaping my own feminism. These feminist movies don’t hit you over the head with their philosophy; you can watch them and love them many times over before you realize that they’ve indoctrinated you into their dangerous belief that women are the equals of men.
At first, as you’re watching Dirty Dancing, you can’t pay attention to anything but Patrick Swayze’s impossibly tight pants. But as the movie progresses, all of a sudden the discussion turns to class differentials and illegal abortion . . . and the main character has pre-marital teenage sex (and kind of a lot of it) without being “punished” by movie’s end.
Yes, I said it: Legally Blonde. Now, sure, the absolutely gorgeous and perfectly-coiffed Reese Witherspoon plays Elle, but any little (or big) girl who watches this movie gets a full-on lesson in not taking any shit from any one . . . including a gross ex-boyfriend or a pervy professor.
So while you’re crying your eyes out of their sockets at this movie, you might not be stopping to analyze The Way We Were‘s radical feminism. But when you take a step back from the massive pile of snot-ridden Kleenex next to your bed, you realize that Barbara is playing a badass socialist activist who refuses to sacrifice her values for her relationship.
Divorced, single mom? Environmental activist? Check and check. Unfortunately, the real lawsuit against energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), wasn’t tied in as neat a bow as Erin Brockovich would have audiences believe. Regardless, for viewers — fictionalized though the story may be — Julia Robert’s portrayal of a strong, multifaceted protagonist inspires.
Little Women (1949 Version)
The 1949 incarnation of the famed feminist movie based on the equally-feminist book is my personal favorite, but you do you, dear readers. Any way you go with Little Women, you can’t go wrong. Because, here’s the thing: for the longest time, you’re watching and re-watching this movie and your main concern is why in the Hell Jo and Laurie don’t end up together. But as you grow as a viewer and as a feminist, you begin to realize that Jo + Laurie is the worst ship of all ships. Jo’s bucking of gender roles, her desire for a career outside the home — these are character traits one doesn’t understand fully until navigating the adult world.
So, “Half-Way” readers, these are my five. Comment with yours!