The definition of ‘woke feminism’ is a hard one to explain.
I watched a few videos on YouTube talking about feminism and how it is growing increasingly toxic, one of which I took a lot of points from in this post called Everything Wrong with Woke Culture so check that out and do your own research and reading. 🙂
In recent years, there has been a rise in female empowerment in media, whether that be in film, tv shows, books, etc. But that’s not necessarily true…
Bad-ass, empowering, strong and brave women have been in the media for ages. Not as much as we would like but they have been there. These include characters such as Katniss, Black Widow, Mulan (cartoon), The Bride, Ellen Ripley (Alien), Trinity (The Matrix). However, in recent years, there has been a rise in many woman-led main roles, such as Captain Marvel, Ocean’s 8, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Birds of Prey, etc. Although I do like a lot of these films, there is a serious issue within most of them regarding ‘woke feminism’.
These characters are designed to be powerful, strong warrior like people, but can also be very arrogant and act very entitled and toxic. There isn’t much growth and learning within these characters, too, displaying that women are born skilled and strong and invincible whereas, in real life, that’s definitely not true. We are raised and we grow to be strong and talented and skilled and brave, we aren’t handed that at birth.
But, Shay, they’re just films, not real life!
With my own experiences as evidence, I have always yearned for representation of women and women of colour in the media because as a young girl, growing and vulnerable to insecurities in this society, I needed someone to look up to and use as a tool to encourage myself to be confident in who I am. I think representation of women, of all backgrounds, colours, sexualities, etc, are important, for the reason being that young girls need that! That being said, we need representation of real women. That’s the whole point of this ‘rise in female roles’; it’s to increase representation. But their representations are wrong with this perception women do not need growth and do not need to work hard to earn their skills and rewards. Growth is important! And so is learning.
Something I find common in bad portrayals of women is that they can be very arrogant and entitled. How are these traits going to benefit younger girls and even older women in any way? We are not entitled just because we are women. Just because we’re women and demand equality and want to break down the patriarchy does not mean that we should be fed success instantly without working for it or having any reason to earn it. Teaching girls that they are entitled to anything and everything is toxic. There’s a contrast between the old cartoon Mulan and the new live-action Mulan. Old Mulan started off as this girl, who was a little anxious and had empathy and compassion but still strong and built up her confidence and bravery throughout the film whereas this new Mulan starts off straight away as incredibly strong and skilled. Very realistic. This is the same case with Captain Marvel, who barely worked to get where she was and was emotionless and kind of boring. Yes, they are strong and brave but they’re boring, unrelatable and unrealistic because they’re so superficial and shallow. And it has nothing to do with them being women dominating the screen because Wonder Woman does it well and was a good film with an amazing female character! In general, using the excuse ‘I am a woman’ to explain why a character is so strong or basing her whole personality and motives on the fact she is a woman, or using society as the villain is tiresome. It’s great to hear the encouragement that ‘women can do anything’ since it’s so inspiring but that doesn’t mean we can do EVERYTHING. This can create a negative effect on younger girls and other women. Sometimes this can be done well, but done badly, it just takes us ten steps back in feminism.
The women written nowadays aren’t written as if they’re people, they’re written as an agenda to bring down men. That is not feminism. Feminism is not taking down men to lift ourselves up. We demand equality not world domination. In fact, it’s almost insulting to women watching, seeing that these female characters are only elevated by belittling men as if that’s the only way a female led film can do well. For example, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo in The Last Jedi is so condescending and hateful towards men and I understand that there was a need to display her as a strong woman with high power but that’s no reason to bring down a man. He just wanted to help. There is no superior gender, but these movies are making it out to force that. Hermione Granger is another example. The books describe a very dynamic, 3D version of Hermione, who is intelligent, strong but also loving and relies on her friends and is relatable whereas movie Hermione is very perfect and way better than her male peers, and although I still like movie Hermione, I can admit she was hard to connect and relate to.
Yes, there’s nothing wrong with having male villains; sometimes in real life, men are obstacles for women. But these ‘woke feminist’ female characters and movies are so obsessed with trying to take down men as a whole.
And when these films with poor female leads don’t do well, or people don’t like them, it’s because they’re sexist. No. If a film is bad, that film is bad. There are so many films with amazing women in that do well, so sexism is not an excuse. I have found that a lot of people find some female characters to be cringey when if a male doing the same thing wouldn’t be and that is sexism and discriminatory but if a character is cringey, arrogant, 2D, entitled, unrealistic and boring, regardless of their gender, that’s a problem with their production and writing not with sexism.
Take Mulan, for example. Why did the cartoon version do so much better than the live action one? Same concept of the character but different execution.
Of course, if an important part of the character for the sake of the story is arrogance and entitlement, etc, then fine, but we want confidence not arrogance and hard work and growth not entitlement. We need dynamic and different characters, not the same superficial archetype every bad-ass female movie has. WE WANT QUALITY NOT JUST “FEMINISM”!
I am grateful we have moved far from the ‘damsel in distress’ type ladies like old Disney princesses and the ‘fixer upper’ girls like Laney in She’s All That and Allison in The Breakfast Club but we might be going a bit far off course. Feminism is steering into a bad direction and it’s feeding into the stigma around it. I know SO MANY people, who do not consider themselves feminists or who judge me for claiming to be one, and I believe it’s because of this woke feminism. Woke feminism is related to elite feminism, where people believe that women are superior. In particular cis-gendered women too. NO! NO ONE IS SUPERIOR!
The feminist message these toxic portrayals are delivering aren’t going to be listened to. It is spreading the wrong message and creating more toxicity and stigma.
We need better female portrayals!
Do you agree?