I've let loose previously on the word "pussy" still being a put-down when So Many other derogatory terms have been called out and laid to rest, or reclaimed, but there is another fem issue that came up in the latest Nutcracker movie. At first I was thrilled to see Keira Knightly as a sweet sugar-plum fairy. The role seemed different from others she'd played. Yet after (spoiler ahead!!!) she revealed herself as the villain, I noticed a few things I that made me roll my eyes. First, the straps of her dress slip down off her shoulder, making it "sexier". Second, she starts commanding her tin soldiers with a a sly, simpering "Come on boys". Ugh. So within about 5 minutes she goes from a sugar sweet "good girl" to sexy villainess. And it's subtle at first, which is even more annoying to me, because I think most people won't notice the change or just shrug. But the point is made: bad girls are sexy, good girls are not. This was in another movie my daughter and I watched, Disenchanted, where the lead, a super courteous princess type, is transformed into an "evil stepmother". She even comments, "My hair is so high and my dress in so low!" because apparently looks, style, and cleavage make a baddy. This is a trope I am SO over. Where are the sexy good girls? Are little girls to learn that sexiness=bad? I was thinking about how I somehow avoided this unfortunate cliche, or patriarchal lesson. The one thing that came to mind was my favorite movie in elementary school- one that some parents would probably cringe knowing I watched it so young!- Flashdance. I took a lot from that movie and it was all good things! One of them was that I loved how unselfconsciously sexy the lead, Alex, was. She OWNED her sexiness, and she didn't have to be a "bad girl" to do it. She wasn't a typical "good girl" either and in that way the character stepped away from the typical madonna/whore dichotomy. At the time, I couldn't have phrased it that way, but that lesson informed me a lot as I grew. Even now, that lesson stays with me enough to be aware of the backside that's happened within the world of women. It's fine to be a bad girl and be sexy. Hell yes. Own that! And if you don't fit that, you don't have to squeeze into another box either. Alex in Flashdance just is who she is, and it takes determination and courage to do that even in the movie, let alone real life. But it sure as hell beats trying to fit patriarchal tropes. Here's to Alex and all the womxn like her and inspired by her!
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