Five feel-good feminist films

12 mins read

Let’s have it, my fellow watchers. We all do love a good feminist film about a woman strutting away from societies standards of being feminine. Personally, I do love it when a woman is in action and breaking bones, but I also love seeing them being brave enough to fall in love too.

It’s known that I am a fan of seeing women’s darker side. However, that’s not all that makes us interesting. Women are like all other humans: interesting outside of gender. Nothing makes a woman like nothing makes anyone else, we are just who we are.

Whether that be wearing leather trousers, dancing on a bar or being a spy in Berlin. I personally love it when women are taken out of the rose-tinted lenses. Of course, I do adore a good 2000’s classic rom-com, I did grow up on them and since developed some very unrealistic expectations.

27 Dresses, I am still waiting to dance on a bar to Benny and the Jets.

However, women in untraditional roles like Megan Fox in ‘Jennifer’s Body’ are the hidden gems. Now, this film won’t be on my personal collection of past-time favourites, but it does get a shout out.

Come on, lying about being a virgin and being turned into a man-eating succubus? I’ve never seen that before, and neither have you. Of course, I would have loved it more from Jennifer’s point of view, but we shall move on, lest I start ranting.

Since we’re all in lockdown, let us reflect on some of the baddest bitches film has ever known. Time to commandeer the couch, sacrifice your young for the remote, steal the blanket from your pet and grab a glass.

1. Coyote Ugly

Credit: Variety

Yes, I went there. To kick off the ultimate list, we’re starting it off trashy and flashy. Because who does not love the idea of a woman ruled bar where you can cut a guys ponytail off? The film starts off painfully relatable as our main character Violet (Piper Perabo) singer and songwriter faces rejection after rejection and decides to pack it in and move to the city.

There she finds the trendy bar ‘Coyote Ugly’ and convinces the steely owner Lil to hire her. Where some paint this plot as ‘unimaginative’ I see it as a risqué journey of self-identity that breaks from tradition. Performing dances on a bar, slinging down straight shots, shopping montages and a general air of sisterhood are what you get here. It’s sexy and romantic, but it also empowers women by allowing them to be sexual in the first place.

It’s mischievous and oozes with confidence that comes from, and is inspired by, women. People will be quick to slut-shame this film but that’s because they are basic and lack the confidence to ever do what these women do. Not to mention I think this film genuinely inspired real-life Coyote Ugly bars where women can be as fierce as they should be without criticism.

2. Charlies Angels (2001)

Credit: Screen Rant

Yes, I am specifying the original 2000’s version because it matters more. In the eve of bromance comedies and romance, came the ultimate girl gang Dylan (Drew Barrymore), Natalie (Cameron Diaz) and Alex (Lucy Liu) in their action-comedy jewel.

They are three women who also happen to be detectives under their mysterious boss Charlie. Not that he matters, moving on. Our women are not only best friend goals and have an enviously cool job, but they are also skilled way beyond comparison.

Tired of the typical man on a mission film? Come hither, we’ve got you. Not only is it a fashionable movie but it’s also clever and a trailblazing moment for all Asian-American actresses due to Lucy Lui’s starring role.

Some will say it’s anti-feminist because of its sexiness but being sexy doesn’t mean you’re not feminist, focusing on the main characters only being sexy is anti-feminist. In this end, this is a women-led hit series that made me believe as a little girl that I could kick ass. Maybe the latest remake is more acceptable in terms of feminism, but I’m not ready to write off this one yet. Not when it made moves to encourage young girls to be fearless.

3. 10 Things I Hate About You

Credit: USA Today

As if I could come in here without one gem from the ’90s. It’s also the definition of high school drama that paved the way for many Wattpad hits if I do say so myself. It begins with a cunning plan to date the hot girl. Cameron (Joseph-Gordon Levitt) wants to date the unattainable Bianca, but she can’t date until her spinster sister Kat (Julia Stiles) gets a boyfriend too.

Enter the drool-worthy bad boy Patrick (Heath Ledger) who Cameron pays to date Kat. Sounds like your typical teen romance but, I mean, it is a modern adaption of Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’. Kat is confident in herself and a staunch feminist that we all want to be, even being called a “heinous bitch.” Brings a smile to her face, as it should.

Honestly, ’10 Things I Hate About You’ was revolutionary in the sense that this film was not about a girl changing herself to be more desirable, but instead accepting who she was and even liking that person. There were so many feminist tones throughout that I can’t even count them all but Kat being independent and not afraid of her own aggression is what I needed to see. It’s a hilarious ride trying to watch Patrick woo her and realising that this was no ordinary girl, and showing audiences that if you want the girl, you gotta hustle hard.

4. Hidden Figures

Credit: Time Magazine

Okay, so this is a real film about feminism, as in a biopic. It entails the three brilliant black mathematicians and engineers who wanted to be treated like humans. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) star as the women who play a pivotal role inside the walls of NASA.

Now before you go on to say that historical films and maths are not your things, give it a chance. This is not about ego but instead a fight against racism, prejudice and dare I say sexism. Hidden Figures is about the women who played essential parts in launching astronaut John Glenn into orbit, it is a legacy left to black women to remind them that society means nothing.

A feminist film through and through that reminds us of what happens if we ever dare to take a step back from the movements that. It’s set in the 1960s so you know the fashion game will inspire your next aesthetic, but we’ll put that on the backburner for now. Whilst this is an incredibly moving film about facing off against the backwards society of this time, there is still room for humour and humanity in these women’s lives. It’s about rising above personal demons to succeed where no success would be regularly found by women, never mind black women.

5: Nappily Ever After

Credit: New York Amsterdam News

Okay, I know this might be an unexpected one. I have looked at some old and gold films here, but I just need to talk about this one. Nappily Ever After is the consequence of when a woman is forced to adhere to societal expectations of being feminine. It’s about losing your identity to fit into the image of the ‘Ideal Woman’ and trying to find yourself when that house of cards falls around you.

Don’t mistake this as a rom-com because this is actually a coming of age film for the modern woman beyond her teens. Violet (Sanaa Lathan) is the uptight businesswoman who always looks picture ready, a perfectionist who embodies what it means to always look presentable. At first glance, she has that picture-perfect life we all want: the boss woman, has a handsome man and the clique of diverse friends.

However, her dream life is shattered when her man doesn’t propose after what is described as “a two-year-long first date”– mega ouch. You’re going to want to see the journey this kickstarts. From a cringe-worthy hair journey through blonde locks to the beautiful shaven head. Violet breaks free from the confines of perfection by shaving her head and going into the world in search of herself.

Credit: WaffleGif

So, there we have it. Five fantastical feminist films to feast on, but let’s make room for the honourable mentions: Little Women (this modern adaptation is perfection), Atomic Blonde (because Charlize Theron is the queen of fight scenes). Now I love all films to the bone, but I have to admit, when it’s a woman breaking boundaries and owning herself, I have to sit back a little quieter.

Featured Image Credit: Witchita Mom’s Blog

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Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

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