Female Action Heroes

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Lisbeth Salander, Columbiana, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, The Tourist, and Salt, and Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games … girls are kicking butt lately! Some say it’s the fourth wave of feminism coming; people are rushing to see girls kick butt and they’re becoming inspired by it, too.

Women are the new action heroes, assassins, spies, hired guns, and even defenders against the occult in today’s films. And unless you’ve been under a rock, this is a pretty big cultural shift in the way we view gender roles. Some may say is a marketing shift – “girls are hot when they’re tough” – but even so: that’s another point for feminism. The days of “speak when spoken to” and “your opinion doesn’t matter because you’re not as good as a man” are gone. These girls can take most men out with a single punch.

And there’s more to it than just being tough – these girls are also extremely smart. In most action movies, the guys fight their way out of a problem, or they call the smart guy sitting at a laptop to navigate them out. These girls don’t need the guy at the laptop: they’ll figure it out themselves and if it comes down to it they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.

It’s a really awesome step forward for feminism and for Hollywood because let’s be honest, as bad as Jonah Hex was, it’s still better to see Megan Fox kicking butt than it was to see Josh Brolin.

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Disney and Pixar’s First (?) Feminist Heroine

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Disney movies are generally known for their happy endings. The end result is that the princess always gets her prince – usually by way of rescue. The prince swoops in at just the right moment to save his damsel in distress, her knees buckle, and into his arms and up the alter she goes. [Ed. Note: My knees have never buckled. Except for that one time when my water broke. That was pretty gross.]

You know – not exactly the feminist story you’d want to tell your daughters. Most Disney movies say if you wish hard enough (Snow White), dress up and attend a ball (Cinderella), or completely give up things that matter to you (Ariel and Belle), you’ll land a beau. But that story is about to be turned upside down.

Disney and Pixar have recently released a trailer and clips for their new movie, Brave. The lead is Merida and she is not your typical heroine. Merida has wild, curly hair that is fiery red, freckles, and a mind of her own. Her big green eyes and tiny little nose make her as cute as bunny—but she’s hardly the cute and cuddly type.

The movie’s plot reads as such: Merida is royalty and it’s time for her to marry, and according to tradition, a man must shoot an arrow at a target for her hand. After one such man nails the bulls-eye, Merida gets up and announces to the crowd, “’Now I’ll shoot for my own hand in marriage!” Merida lines up three targets, takes aim and nails them. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman for help, she falls prey to a curse. Ready for this? “The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.”

That last sentence is from Pixar—there is no mention of her succumbing to marriage, or a prince. This movie is all about Merida - about her coming to terms with who she is and what matters to her. There are many scenes in which she defies her parents in order to follow her heart, and she never sits on the sidelines and is a better shot than any lad in the Highlands of Scotland. That’s my kind of lady! It’s nice to see family movies finally empowering our little girls. This is a step in the right direction for Pixar, Disney, and feminism, don’t you think?

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Liz Taylor: A Real Feminist

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It’s coming up on the year anniversary of Liz Taylor’s death, and there’s a new book out by M.G. Lord called The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice. The book itself is getting a lot of criticism from readers, most of who are saying that Lord was just trying to capitalize on Taylor’s passing and his book is flimsy and not well-thought out. But this article isn’t really going to be about the book, it’s going to be about Elizabeth Taylor and how yes, she actually was a feminist.

There is no doubt in my mind that Liz was a feminist. I’ve watched countless documentaries and read biographies and her strength was always so astounding to me. She endured so much illness, heartbreak, and the death of close friends. She was at the forefront of so much tragedy. One story that always stuck with me was when Liz threw a party at her house, her good friend, Monty Clift, drove away later that night and got into an accident on her property. Liz heard the crash and ran to his car. Clift was inside and paparazzi were already taking photos of him. Liz ran to the car, grabbed Clift, looked at the photographers and said, “If one single picture is published I’ll make sure you never work in this industry again.” Not one picture was published. Liz was that powerful and that protective of those she loved.

There are endless accounts of Rock Hudson, James Dean, and Montgomery Clift always hanging around Liz, and every one said it’s because she was so loving and motherly to them. They all had a secret, they all …

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New “Twilight” Movie, New Conversations About Sexuality

Book Cover of "Seduced by Twilight" by Natalie Wilson
Every time a new movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s truly dreadful books comes out, conversations about sex and vampires and Bella’s pathetic characterization regarding the portrayal of females in literature and film seem to pop up everywhere.

Consider this a token response to Breaking Dawn (subtitled Breaking Bella).

Natalie Wilson recently wrote a book entitled Seduced by Twilight, which touches on many of the very legitimate concerns the series raises, an excerpt of which was run on Women’s Enews.  Wilson attempts to “explore the contradictory messages of Twilight, a series that presents neither a subversive nor a conservative view of larger social contexts, but is an ambiguous mixture of both.”

Right on, Natalie Wilson!

From Women’s Enews:

Most of the messages in the saga are rather old-fashioned, encouraging the largely female fan base to head back to the kitchen. The series speaks for the likes of Glenn Beck, who told Sarah Palin to “make him some stew.” Yet, some of the textual strands are transgressive, suggesting that religious and cultural mores of sexuality and gender are too strict. Others …

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