Top 6 Feminist Characters in Mainstream TV/Movies

We’re going to get a tad down and dirty now. We’re talking F-word dirty.

From the 20s First Wave Movement that gave us the right to vote (yay we’re considered human!) to the 60s Second Wave Movement that brought about the coveted contraceptives and the recognition of domestic violence as a crime, and finally the current flavor of the F-world – Third Wave Feminism, focusing on unifying women of diverse cultures, religions and sexualities, to sum it up, women have come a long way.

What IS the F-world?

Here’s a short test you can take to decide if you are part of the F-world:

  • Do you/have to/would like to go to school?
  • Do you work in a top firm or a loving home?
  • Would you like to drive a car? Or maybe a bike? Or a bus? A boat? Maybe all?
  • Would you like to dye your hair blonde? Maybe blue after that?
  • Would you want to get a boob job?
  • Would you never want to get a boob job?
  • Would you cuss/punch a guy who hits your sister?
  • Does your wife/girlfriend buy you a present and you love her for it?
  • Would you like the option of wearing a bikini? Or a burqa?
  • Do you like to be in stable relationships? Or do you like to play the field?
  • Or keep a baby? Or not keep it?
  • Do you like to choose?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are a feminist.

Feminism has this off-putting quality of being considered a cuss word or an anti-men word. It means nothing like that. Being a feminist doesn’t mean going braless or being lesbian and hairy. But it also does. In effect, it all boils down to choice – to make a conscious choice about what you want, not what John or Jane or Johannesburg wants.

It isn’t about hating men, in fact, Feminism BENEFITS men. See, we know women are manipulated by the media, etc. etc. To put it simply, women are inundated with media images on the quintessential beauty – look like Kate Moss and you’re gold. This pressure culminates in various adverse effects like poor self-image, depression, eating disorders, etc. But here’s the thing – this pressure isn’t limited to women. More and more men are exposed to the pressures of being the Alpha male – characterized by big muscles, high virility, deep voices, etc. (Think Johnny Bravo). Feminism makes us challenge these ideals. It also takes pressure off men to be the primary bread-winners of the family (quitting your loathed job and vacationing in the Bahamas doesn’t sound like a bad idea now eh?)

Also, the stereotypical emotions and professions targeted at men and women are being challenged. Jane wants to be an engineer? Awesome! John wants to be a nurse? That’s great! He wants to cry if he sees a patient in terrible condition? Bring on the waterworks!

Feminism is about breaking barriers and being who you want to be – defining yourself – be it as a man, woman, lesbian, gay, transgender, transsexual, queer or a cheetah. YEAH YOU GO BE A CHEETAH IF YOU WANT TO.

Now that I’ve given you a short albeit hopefully helpful intro into The F-word; let’s move onto the F-list.

Top 6 Feminist Characters in TV/Movies:

1. Grey’s AnatomyPretty much all the characters

Right from the women – Bailey juggling being an excellent mother and an excellent surgeon and Christina choosing her career over a baby, to the men – Derek supporting Meredith through the hurdles of their marriage (albeit with some compromises on part of each); Grey’s is the epitome of Third Wave Feminism, comprising of women of color in strong positions, homosexual couples (Calzona make the best couple of the show, IMHO) and men who support their wives/girlfriends, are strong men, and form an equal relationship for the most part with their female counterparts.

2. Peggy Olson – Mad Men

Set in the 60s, Peggy could’ve pretty much set the ball rolling for the Pay and Employment Equity Act. Hired as a female typist, she rose to the position of a female writer, and demanded to be seen a writer, wanting the symbolic eradication of the ‘female’ bit; in other words, she wanted equal pay for the quality and quantity of work she invested.

3. Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) – Titanic

A 17 year old girl rebelling against the gender and class boundaries set for her by society. Sounds inspiring. Back in the 20s, even more inspiring and perhaps unheard of. She followed her heart supported by a strong mind, an independent outlook and a fiery passion – qualities I admire in any person.

4. Miranda Hobbes – Sex and The City

Although Sex and The City proclaimed itself as a ‘modern feminist’ show, I do have a couple of bones I could pick with a few characters. However, Miranda was an open feminist – she is ambitious, independent and won’t settle for less-than-best. Although many shows have ‘feminist’ characters with the aforementioned qualities, they often end up showing these ambitious women to be cold, calculating, ruthless, perhaps even shown to be misandrists (Read: Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada). Miranda has this realism to her – she falls in love, gets cheated on, forgives him because she wants to, has kids, and is a successful career woman. She may not be the best mother but that’s fine – she defies the primary label that often gets crowned upon a woman when she gives birth – ‘mother’.

5. The Women of  The L-Word

This might be a controversial one; so here’s a disclaimer: I find the characters of L-word pretty feminist (Read: Bette Porter, Dana Fairbanks, Tina Kennard), however, the show itself (albeit a pioneer for their portrayal of the LGBTcommunity in mainstream American TV), plays into the same stereotype it attempts to defy – portraying these multidimensional characters in a unidimensional, titillative manner.  The characters themselves portray a wide range of sexualities, professions, relationships and emotions, but the show seems to put these at the background, making the show’s USP (in the words of a male friend) one abundant with ‘wicked hot lesbian sex’.

6. Rick Santorum, Rick Santorum

Although Rick may not be considered a feminist at first glance, upon further insight into his views on various issues, HA I’m just messing with ya – happy late April Fool’s Day!

 

6. Monica, Phoebe and Chandler FRIENDS

My favourite show EVER!

Monica follows her passion of being a chef and rising to the top, wants kids, won’t settle for a guy who will have them for the sake of being with her. Supported by the ever-charming Chandler, who in his own right, is very feminist – supporting his wife’s decision to follow a career over living with him in Tulsa and being supported by his wife through his trails, tribulations and Janice.

Phoebe has her own weird beliefs that she follows to a T, coupled with a pretty rough childhood and having made it on her own through it. She goes through life from one relationship to the other, being open about her demands, and doesn’t settle.

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What do you guys think? Let the F-word out!

Stay Bold, Your way.

–  Mallika

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