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August 8, 2010

Feminist Perspectives on Popular Movies: Heroine Content

Despite jokes like The Action Heroine’s Handbook, a guide that ridiculously suggests being able to “choke a man with your bare thighs” is the staple of any successful heroine, strong, kick-ass women are something to be celebrated in popular culture. But I’ll admit, it’d be a lot easier if they weren’t always overshadowed by their male counterparts. Seriously, we’re so used to brawny, fearless, save-the-day heroes - that female characters are often shoved on a back burner, occupying a variety of stereotypical roles that range from nagging mothers, to helpless victims, to my personal favorite (i.e. the bane of my existence) prostitutes. Now I’m not saying that women are always typecast this way, but you have to admit there seem to be a lot more Supermen on TV and in the movies than Superwomen. And even when fictional female characters do exhibit qualities that make us glow with pride - bravery, for example - they’re not always given the credit, or even the attention, they deserve.

Well, a friend of mine turned me on to a site earlier today that I simply have to share, and with the awesome tagline “feminist and anti-racist thoughts on women kicking ass,” how can you go wrong?

Heroine Content is a site by women, for women. Basically, it’s a creative center where insightful authoresses analyze movies (and, to a lesser extent, books and TV shows) through feminist and humanist perspectives. And in case you’re one of those people who think activists stick to watching old, stuffy nature documentaries - think again! This site is for the modern woman, and even if we like our rom-coms and tear-jerkers from time to time, we also like sci-fi, horror, and heart-pounding action.

Not only are the women who contribute to this site witty, they’re just plain thoughtful. They seem like the type of gals you’d want to have coffee with (or in my case, hot chocolate), and don’t try to over-complicate things or use flamboyant language just to seem legit. They’re down-to-earth and honest, but at the same time have no problem calling out sexist crap when they see it.

It’s just fascinating to read what these women have to say because they actually give women in movies - the ones who are usually overlooked or written off as “lesser characters” - the attention they deserve. The review that really spoke to me (oddly enough) was for The Book of Eli, a movie I saw about a month ago with my parents. Skye (the reviewer) mentioned how Peter Howell of Toronto’s called the two female leads “hot hookers”; if you’ve seen the movie you’ll understand why that is complete and utter bull . . . dog. These women live in a post-apocalyptic world and are constantly threatened with sexual violence. “So,” Skye writes, “Peter Howell calls them ‘hot hookers.’ Gee, I wonder what he thinks of non-fictional women who are in abusive relationships, or who are forced into prostitution by threat of violence?”

Ssssss . . . burn.

Heroine Content is a cool site (cool enough to earn a spot on my Favorites taskbar!) and definitely worth a look-see or two. Heck, it might even save you a disappointing trip to the movie theater!