I loved this movie! Not only was it entertaining but the theme of female empowerment ran rapid, up and down, and all through it! A gutsy red-haired girl refuses to be sold into marriage, refusing to let others decide the path that her life should take and who she should be. It’s not that she has some other destiny in mind she just wants the ability to find it, whatever it may be, for herself.
I recently read a comment about feminism being paramount to hating men or making all men out to be horrible human beings. It is a sad but persistent point of view among non-feminists. Well, this movie speaks to that and I know Disney didn’t intend for it to be that deep! Bear with me, I promise not to spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it but want to.
Merida, the gutsy red-haired girl, is a bit of a tom boy. And guess which parent encourages her to be just as she is? Mother or father? Guess which parent desperately wants to make her into a “respectable lady?” Well, you’ve seen the preview now so you should know the answer to that. Her father is the one that teaches her about archery and swordplay, which she has undeniable talent for, not to mention that both bring her such joy. But, it is her mother that is determined to undermine all of that. Her mother who insists that she wear a corset and do all these other things that princesses are expected to do. This would be fine if that was what Merida wanted but Merida is abundantly clear – she does not want it. And yet, her opinion, her feelings seem to mean nothing to her mother. This is the central conflict of the movie.
Isn’t it perfectly realistic? For as many times as I’ve faced gender discrimination or generalizations at the hand (or mouth) of a man, I’ve also gotten it from a woman. A woman who likely just doesn’t know any better but A WOMAN nonetheless. How did this happen to us? How did we become pawns in the plot to undermine ourselves? I suspect it started with just one woman. Maybe she was so desperate to be happy that the only way she saw to do this was to identify with her oppressor. Or maybe she didn’t think what she truly felt mattered so she shut down that little voice inside her that was screaming to be heard.
How many women have told their daughters that they weren’t good enough just as they were? That they needed to lose weight or be popular to get through life? This link leads to the next video which is a series of clips from the cable television show Weeds.
Now for one last example. When I was growing up, every girl I knew had a mother that was concerned about her … innocence, shall we say. This would show up in rules about dating, being alone with boys, or in my case … what I was wearing. I’d always been a busty girl and by the time I was fifteen grown men had started to notice. And they weren’t the least bit ashamed of themselves. So, my mother – as loving as she is, made a federal case out of my necklines. If I wore anything that was not a turtleneck she was concerned. She didn’t want boys/men to get the wrong impression. What, that I’m a fifteen year old hooker? I’d say. It couldn’t possibly have been their problem. No, I needed to cover up to help boys/men keep their hormones in check. It was my responsibility. So, for years I hid underneath huge tee shirts and even wore jackets in eighty degree weather just to keep “the girls” out of sight. But eventually, I had enough. I wore what I wanted. I didn’t conduct myself in a sleazy fashion. I wasn’t flirty or even friendly usually. But I did wear whatever I felt like myself in and it did not give anybody license to disrespect me.
Any of you have a similar experience?