Evie in Am I Normal Yet? is a massive film buff – largely as she rarely left the house for two years due to her OCD. During the book, she gets introduced to The Bechdel Test by her new feminist friends, and has her eyes opened to just how screwed up, misogynistic and generally-broken Hollywood is.
The Bechdel Test is a simple way of showcasing how women are rarely given their own plot in films.
It’s scarily easy to pass. You just need:
• Two (named) female characters,
• To have only ONE conversation,
• That isn’t about a man.
And yet SO MANY MOVIES FAIL.
But there are incredible feminist films out there, and slowly Hollywood is starting to wake up to the fact that people like stories about women! Here are my top 5.
1) The Stepford Wives (1975)
What’s it about: Joanna isn’t particularly pleased to be dragged out of New York to the suburban town of Stepford – especially as all the women there seem like perfect, domesticated cake-baking sex-robots… Oh hang on…that’s because all the wives ARE domesticated, cake-baking sex-robots. And the men of the town murder their wives and replace them with compliant machines.
Why it’s feminist: It’s an incredible bit of satire, but also scary as f*ck. Even though it was made in the seventies, a recent re-watch proved it’s still relevant now. And, with the somewhat-worrying increase in demands for female sexbots, like 1984, it may still turn out to be prophetic.
Best scene: The last scene – when Joanna meets her robot replacement – will chill you to the core and stop you sleeping for weeks.
2) Bridesmaids (2011)
What’s it about: Annie’s life is falling apart, but she’s happy for her best friend’s Lillian’s engagement. Seriously, she is! When she’s asked to be Maid of Honour, she’s introduced to Lillian’s other bridesmaids and starts feeling insecure about their friendship.
Why it’s feminist: This literally-piss-yourself funny examination of female friendship debunks a lot of myths…that women aren’t funny…that we only care about our relationships with men…that hen dos are fun… Its righteous success has paved the way for many more female-focused films like Pitch Perfect, and their subsequent success shows there’s huge demand for films like this. More please.
Best scene: It’s not particularly ‘feminist’ but the infamous food-poisoning scene is always going to win everything. Or maybe it is feminist. GIRLS POO TOO! WE REALLY, REALLY DO – GET THE HELL OVER IT!
3) Thelma and Louise (1991)
What’s it about: This cult classic follows two best friends, Thelma and Louise, on a girls-weekend gone wrong. After a man attempts to rape her friend, Louise shoots him dead and they go on the run from the law. Cue bad-ass roguery that makes the Bad Blood video look like child’s play (sorry Taylor, I do still love you).
Why it’s feminist: IT JUST IS! I’M TOO BUSY CRYING AND AIR-PUNCHING AT THE THOUGHT OF IT. JUST GO WATCH IT!
Best scene: The iconic ending…and…well…a pre-famous Brad Pitt’s cameo, and his pre-famous Brad Pitt’s butt.
4) Ruby Sparks (2012)
What’s it about: A lonely novelist with writer’s block starts writing about his idea of a perfect girlfriend. She’s quirky, pretty, and soooo into him. Then she magically turns up in his kitchen in real-life and he can control her using his typewriter.
Why it’s feminist: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a common lazy-scriptwriting cliché that I’ve rolled my eyes at in cinemas far too often. This film demolishes it and shows just how dark it is as a concept, when you really think about it.
Best scene: When he starts controlling Ruby with his type-writer, getting her to repeat ‘you’re a genius, you’re a genius’ at him, over and over.
5) Strike! (1998)
What’s it about: A secret society of friends within a prestigious all-girls boarding school start a full-out protest against their school going co-ed. I’ve been searching online, and this film is currently very hard to find on DVD but do try!
Why it’s feminist: It’s fun, silly, has shed-loads of oddly-now-famous people in it, and actually has a lot of feminist heart under all the hockey-sticks and bra-stuffing jokes.
Best scene: Up Yours Ziggy With A Wa-Wa Brush.
That’s all I’m going to say for now.
Note: I am aware that none of these choices have any main characters played by women of colour. I tried searching for films with strong-feminist themes that have a majority cast of WOC and I found I hadn’t seen them. I am ashamed of this! And hope to rectify it immediately. Intersectional feminism is very important, and it won’t do if it’s only white feminists on our cinema screens. I found this great list, and hope to make my way through watching it. I suggest you do too. Also, if you have any feminist film reccs, do send them my way!