Movies take leap in fight for gender equality

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By Bekah Denny

Illustration by Faith Evans
Illustration by Faith Evans

In the past, women in media were portrayed in extremes. Either they were good looking like Jessica Rabbit, emotionless like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or a naive ingenue done in Snow White fashion.

It is expected for feminists, or just women in general, to say women aren’t portrayed right in movies, but in recent years, media has finally given them roles that proclaim that they are just as important as men.

From female characters like Katniss Everdeen and Mia Hall from the movie If I Stay to characters like the newly-defined Sleeping Beauty and Black Widow, modern women in media are now represented as strong and even-tempered.

Fairy tales have a list that they religiously follow when creating female characters. They must be weak and frail but always in tune. They must always fall for the obvious plot against them. It is not a fairy tale if a female is not saved by a courageous prince, or if she isn’t wearing a wedding band around her finger by the end of the scene as a reward for his heroic attempts. While these requirements are ridiculous, there seems to be a pattern.

The patterns are destroyed in the recent telling of Maleficent. Throughout the recitation of the classic tale, frailty and in tune lead actors are nonexistent. Love and hope through male brawn is completely disregarded and is instead brought to light through the love and strength of maternal affection that exists between Maleficent and Aurora.

Viewers relate to Katniss Everdeen’s humanity even in the midst of her wild dystopian world. Even though Everdeen is part of a never-ending love triangle, she is also a heroine who, while going through her own struggles, leads the fight for freedom. Even with all of her rebellious vigor, she breaks down, showing how susceptible she is to pain and depression, just like most females in the real world.

Comics from Marvel tend to dramatize women and try to “empower” them through their dialogue. Instead it makes them come across as mean “man-haters.” Through the Black Widow, Marvel has made the rare accomplishment of giving a woman strength, sass, and kindness with, granted, a tight-leather suit. Baby steps. Widow is one example of the newly-defined comic super women. She defends those she loves and breaks the heartless stereotype people are so used to seeing.  

Hall is not a spy or a revolutionary. She is a reality-based teen who encounters loss beyond imagination. Rather than taking the easy route, dying like the rest of her family, she takes into account the people she would leave behind and her own desire to live. Showing that even “regular girls” can fight for the things they hold dear like no other.

Lead female roles, are being given the realness they deserve in the fictional world. Women are more capable than people think, and movies have finally started to acknowledge the progress that gender equality has made in today’s society.