“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” —Maya Angelou
You read another rape story, sigh for a while, and forget. You come across another dowry case, feel sorry, and get back to your work. You hear about a woman being slapped around by her husband from your domestic help, empathise with them, and continue on with our chores.
Most of us sit comfortable in our four walls, empathize with the pain of others, but are slow to act. However, these filmmakers chose not to take it lying down, and went ahead to bring issues of the oppression of women to the forefront, to infuse courage in all of us, to stand up for what we believe in.
- A League Of Their Own (1992)
Dottie and Kit are drafted into a professional baseball league along with several other women. Jimmy, an alcoholic and a former star is forced to manage them. Can they work together to build a team?
This is a powerful movie about women in sports, an arena where men have always thought themselves superior, purely because of their supposed greater stamina and strength. Set in World War II, the women in this movie bravely reject the stereotypes about female athletes and take over the male-dominated Baseball, emerging winners at the end.
“A woman’s place is at home, first, second, and third,” is something which these ladies bravely defy and are crowned champions in Baseball.
- Brave (2012)
Set in the Scottish Highlands during the Medieval period, a skilled archer named Merida defies an age-old custom, causing chaos in her kingdom and angering her mother, Elinor. After consulting a witch for help, Merida accidentally curses her mother and is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late.
Yes, ‘princesses’ do have other goals in life apart from waiting for their ‘prince charming’! One of the more empowering Disney movies, Brave pays tribute to the adventurous spirit that lies inside every girl. We need to question the way things are, or else we would never grow as a society.
Merida, our female protagonist, says, “Our fate lives in us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”
3. She Is The Man (2006):
Viola’s soccer team is cancelled and she is not allowed on the boy’s team either. So, she disguises herself as a boy and joins the team. But, she didn’t plan on falling in love with roommate Duke.
This is a story about a woman who accepted no rejections when it came to her passion: soccer. Even when her team was cancelled, Viola found a creative way to join the boys’ team: dress like one!
This is a tribute to the sheer tenacity of womankind, their perseverance and valour, when it comes to things and people they love. And their ability to keep going despite the whole world being against you.
“But girls aren’t as fast as boys. Or as strong. Or as athletic. This is not me talking. It’s a scientific fact. Girls can’t beat boys. It’s as simple as that.” – Viola’s coach to her.
4. 9 to 5 (1980)
This Oscar-nominated classic comedy makes a bold statement on women empowerment, exploring ‘women’s liberation’ in the male dominated corporate world in the 1980s.
Three daunting women decide to plot to take down on their ‘”sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss who lies about sleeping with them, purposely throws pencils off the table so that they are forced to bend and pick them up, and makes claims like, “Spare me the women’s lib crap” when accused of being sexist.
This alluring story filled with wit and humour shows the special bond between women, and what they are capable of, when pushed too far.
5. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)–
“Who wants to cook aloo gobi when you can bend a ball like Bekham?” What do you do when your parents want you to hang up your football boots, and instead do household chores and learn to cook the perfect meal?
You fight back and bend the rules like these two 18 year- olds in the movie, because nothing beats talent and hard work. Not even gender. Especially not gender.
Through this movie, Director Chaddha beautifully expresses and justifies her claim, ‘You don’t have to follow the convention of what is expected of you.’
6. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. The film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts, who fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).
This Oscar-winning Julia Roberts movie is sure to infuse you with strength and a fighter’s spirit as she strives to be a voice for those who don’t know how to stand up for themselves. The gutsy unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and single-handedly wins the case against a California Power Company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. There is an Erin in each one of us. Give her life! (Source: Wikipedia)
“If you can go out there and stand up for what it is you believe in no matter how many times you are knocked down, in the end the swinging of your own blows will exhaust them.” – Erin Brockovich
7. Dark Girls (2011)
The stigma of ‘colorism’ is still deep rooted in a few sections of our society.Through this documentary, Filmmakers Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry explore a deep-seated bias within black culture against women with darker skin.
The documentary conveys the message of healing, acceptance, and pride in the way one looks naturally, breaking the conventional definition of beauty.
“We were made fun of, called ‘Little Black Sambo’ — that was our introduction to kindergarten.”
“You were made to feel ‘less than’ because your skin was darker, and (that) being dark brown or black was ugly.”
You are beautiful exactly the way you are!
8. The Invisible War (2012)
This documentary film exposes the corrupt dealings of military leadership and the horrific and heart-wrenching sexual assault on the female soldiers serving in the US military.
“He screamed at me, and he made me come in, and he grabbed my arm,” she says, sobbing, “And he raped me in his berthing area.”
The film also affirms that “25% of servicewomen didn’t report the rape because the person to report to was the rapist.”
Yes, this is difficult to gulp down, but this is the harsh truth!
9. Mulan (1998)
Young Mulan is distraught to learn that her weak father must join the army to fight the invading Huns. Not wanting to endanger his life, she gets into a disguise and joins the army in his place.
Curious, isn’t it, how women have to pretend to be men before they can show their true strength? In another powerful animated movie, Mulan secretly takes her father’s place in the army and saves her country from the Huns.
Mulan does not fit in society’s perspective of a perfect woman’, one that is concerned only with the right makeup and dress.She fights for what she believes in.
“Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons?” says the Huns leader. Are daughters any less?
10. The Colour Purple (1985)–
This film follows the life of Celie, a young black girl growing up in the early 1900’s. At the age of 14 she was impregnated by her father, this movie follows her hardships in the next 30 years.
Another gem by Spielberg, based on the book by Alice Walker, this one is full of raw emotions which resonates with every woman who has undergone trauma at the hands of the intolerant society she lives in. It is also a tale of immense willpower of the protagonist as she fights for justice from domestic violence, racism, and sexual discrimination.
“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.”
11. Suffragette (2015)
A group of resolute women in England with a burning desire to bring in reform and change, fight for their ‘right to vote’. Steeped with inner strength and a fearless attitude, they follow ‘deeds not words’ to reach their goal. A revolution started for the masses became an equally enriching path of personal evolution for these women.
Bold dialogues such as ‘I would rather be a rebel than a slave’ and ‘You want me to respect the law? Then make the law respectable,’ echo their courage and strong will power to bring in a transformation.
12. Belle (2013)
The illegitimate daughter of a navy admiral is trained and brought up by her aristocratic uncle and his wife. She grows up to abolish slavery in England.
Based on a true story, this film is about Belle, a woman who is compelled to conform to a society which considers her inferior because she is ‘black’.
Fortunately for us, Belle does not succumb to the mental and emotional abuse inflicted on her and makes her voice heard. Caught between the social customs, protocols, and prestige of the family, Belle not only finds her unique space but also supports her cousin, saving her from the shackles of slavery.
She boldly says, “My greatest misfortune would be to marry into a family who would carry me as their shame.” inspiring us to rise up and take action.
13. Iron Jawed Angles (2004)
|“This is inspiring for women of all ages … I was really moved by the drive and courage of these women.” ~ Hilary Swank
A dynamic group of women go on to sacrificing their health and marriage to fight to pass the 19th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, allowing the woman the right to vote and citizenship benefits. Their unstoppable spirit and determination goes into starting a hunger strike until the senate resolves. Every moment of the movie is loaded with courage, unwavering stance, and a belief to bring about a revolution.
13. The Help (2011)
With sensitivity and grace, it shows the traditional way black maids are treated, the quiet racism in place which is perfectly acceptable since it’s been in place for so long. With separate washrooms, and utensils, for the maids, it’s expected from them to raise your child as their own, but to not become attached to them, or too familiar. It shows an unexpected friendship that blossoms between a white woman and a black maid, and how aggressively the society reacts when tradition is being threatened.
Did any of the movies you saw, left an indelible mark on you? Share with us in the comments below.