My semester is nearly over, my papers will be done in a couple of weeks, and my Netflix account has been sorely underused for the last four months. It’s time for me to find some good feminist movies to watch during the holiday break.
Some of my favorite feminist films deal overtly with gender roles and pushing up against patriarchal norms.
- Whale Rider, about a 12 year old girl who is destined to be the leader of her people, blew me away when I saw it.
- Iron Jawed Angels, about Alice Paul’s fight to win suffrage in the early 20th century, is a movie every woman should see before election season.
- Brides of Christ. Ok, this might be an unusual choice, since it is a 1990’s New Zealand miniseries about Catholic nuns during the Vatican II era. But the issues it dealt with — divorce, female leadership and communities, birth control, faith and progressive values, etc. resonated strongly with me.
These are films that have stayed with me, ones I want to watch over and over again because they speak to something in my feminist heart. But I also enjoy movies that might not be as overtly feminist, but that do feature strong women and strong female friendships. When I read about the Bechdel Test, first popularized in Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For I thought this was an interesting basic (very basic) standard for the feminist movie goer. It’s a simple test. A movie passes if it
1) has at least two women in it
2) who talk to each other
3) about something besides a man
It’s shocking to see how many movies don’t pass. The Pixar classic Finding Nemo barely passes — it only squeaks by because Flo asks Peach about a patient’s root canal during an ensemble scene. Even lots of women centered movies don’t pass because their conversations center around men.
Please share your favorite feminist films, and other films you’ve loved that pass the Bechdel test. What are the ones that have stayed with you over the years?
A Mormon feminist, Caroline is completing her coursework for her Ph.D. in religion with a focus on women’s studies in religion. Her areas of interest revolve around the intersections of Mormon and feminist theology and the study of contemporary Mormon feminist communities. She is the co-founder of the Mormon feminist blog, The Exponent,