Saturday, August 1, 2015

Damsel in Distress?

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By: Kendi K.

In America today, girl power is one most popular topics for songs, books, and magazines. With female millionaires such as Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé Knowles, as well as Janet Yellen who is listed as the sixth most powerful person in the world, the U.S has finally opened its eyes to the fact that women are equal to men. Yet, some of Americas most popular books and movies put sexist labels on their female characters such as the damsel in distress or even stereotypical cooking and cleaning roles.

            Think of some of the most well known movies in America. Take the classic Disney movie Sleeping Beautyfor example. Not once in the movie did princess Aurora ever take a leap of faith or make a courageous choice. The entire movie the only eventful thing Aurora did was get her and the rest of her kingdom cursed to an eternal sleep. In the end it was prince Phillip who awoke the kingdom by kissing Aurora. Aurora isnt the only princess to be the damsel in distress. Jasmine, Cinderella, and Rapunzel in the end were all rescued by the oh so brave male characters. In the movie Snow White, as soon as Snow arrives at the dwarves house, she starts to cook and clean as if thats all women are capable of, when in reality, we are capable of so much more.

            Even in modern stories such as Twilight, the main character Bella is portrayed as the damsel in distress in very subtle ways. Bella is so desperately in love with her boyfriend Edward, that whenever he is gone she goes into a deep depression. Without him she is described as lost and empty, suggesting that without a boy in her life, life isnt worth living. She only starts to heal when the other male lead Jacob rescues her from her depression.

            Movies today have more discreet ways of portraying female characters as the weaker ones. Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, all have strong female characters with respectable jobs and lifestyles, yet the male characters always ends up saving them in the most inconspicuous ways. In second Spiderman movie, the newest version, Peter Parker tries to sacrifice himself to save his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. That is simply another way for the male lead to be the hero while the female lead stands by to watch.

            With books and movies only portraying female characters as helpless, we need more writers to promote the fact that girls are just as capable as boys of saving the day. Tremendous progress has been made with stories such as The Hunger Games and Frozen where the main characters are independent females who save themselves as well as others from the threat. But until it is clear to everyone that girls are equal to boys, we need young  authors and playwrights to write stories where female characters are equally as capable of saving the day as the male characters. We can change the way people view women and girls one story at a time.

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