Northwest Missourian Opinion

Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements of women, and the movies they’ve been a part of are a great place to turn for celebrating their accomplishments and embracing female strength, determination and independence. In celebration of Women’s History Month, I’m suggesting five movies with female leads that represent female empowerment.

Thelma and Louise”:

Nominated for six Academy Awards, this movie follows two best friends who leave behind their domestic life in search of an adventure, an act of resistance in a time when conforming to gender roles was praised. “Thelma and Louise” transitions from a light-hearted to serious tone as their road trip turns into a run from the law, and the two must find strength in the face of newfound adversity. 

The friendship revolving around Thelma and Louise is authentic. It makes me feel like I’m along for the ride in this touching, amusing and thrilling movie. This is a great movie to watch to celebrate Women’s History Month because of its empowering story of self-discovery and the independence of women. If you have a best friend, make a movie night of it.  

A League of Their Own”:

This movie was a breakthrough not only for women’s sports movies but female empowerment in general. Before this movie was released in 1992, women were mostly excluded from sports films, despite their stories waiting to be told. Thanks to the late female director Penny Marshall, women were finally represented in what became one of the most significant sports movies yet.  

“A League of Their Own” is based on a true story about the first season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which existed from 1943 to 1954. 

The viewer is immersed in a story unfolding during WWII, when men were fighting in the war and women had the opportunity to embrace sports. The cast stars Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna, a trio of star power who kill their roles. This movie uses impactful writing to address issues women went through like sexism and gender stereotypes without being preachy. As someone who isn’t a big sports fan, I highly recommend this movie because it’s an interesting story, resonating with the struggles women still face today, while ultimately empowering women to embrace their inner-champion. 

Hidden Figures”: 

This award-winning film tells the stories of African American mathematicians Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson, who calculated NASA’s launch and landing trajectories of the first American to orbit Earth. 

While rocket science is way over my head, their struggle of fighting institutional racism and sexism is not. These three women dismantled the myth that women, specifically Black women, aren’t fit for the math and science fields and prove how intelligent and capable women are. Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson give outstanding, moving performances that transcend the screen. “Hidden Figures” is exciting and will entertain and inspire you while teaching you a little-known aspect of historical achievement by women. 

Alien”:

I grew up watching the brilliant Sigourney Weaver battle alien monsters on my TV, but it wasn’t until I got older that I realized the theme of female empowerment sewn throughout. “Alien” follows the crew of a commercial starship and their encounter with an alien race. 

The script was originally written for a man, which makes Weaver’s legendary acting that much more impactful. Bravery is personified as Weaver plays the role of Ellen Ripley, who destroys gender expectations and balances her strength as a soldier with her maternal side. The movie is thrilling and entertaining throughout, and is a must-watch this month for anyone interested in the sci-fi or horror genre. 

Mulan”:

Rounding out the list is one of my favorite Disney animated movies, “Mulan.” The title comes from the name of the lead character, who takes her sick father’s place in the Chinese military draft. The story starts with showing the struggles Mulan goes through trying to live up to the standards of being a woman in a patriarchal society, a mold she knows she doesn’t fit. Then she becomes enveloped in military training to become physically strong. 

But physical strength isn’t the emphasis of the movie. When the time comes, it’s Mulan’s wit that allows her to defeat the enemy, not the manly army. Unlike so many other Disney movies, Mulan is not a damsel in distress; instead, she does the saving. Throughout the movie, Mulan is genuinely funny and charming, while challenging gender stereotypes and proving the power of females. Whether you have kids, enjoy animations or just want a taste of nostalgia like me, “Mulan” is a great movie to watch for Women’s History Month.

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