Girls On Film: 5 Incredible Films with Female Leads

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It’s Day 3 of my Women’s Day posts y’all!! This one’s coming in a little late, oops. But a gal’s got to put school first, am I right?

Today’s post is all about my favourite women-led films. These films all showcase courageous women, either actively fighting for equality or just living their day-to-day lives. All of these films pass the Bechdel Test (i.e. two women speak to each other at some point and the convo is not about a guy) which is obviously a super important consideration when it comes to crafting a list of films for Women’s Day! All of these films have left their mark on me in some way, and I hope that they do the same for you.

Without further ado, here are my 5 favourite female-led films!

MONA LISA SMILE

This is one of my favourite female-led films of all time. A graduate student from UCLA comes to the conservative, all-female Wellesley College to teach art history. She quickly realizes that the majority of the students in her class are primarily interested in finding husbands, rather than getting an education and a career. Slowly, their professor starts to show them a different life, one where they aren’t relegated to housewife and motherhood roles which was, at the time this movie is set, considered very dangerous and threatening to the social order. It’s a fantastic film all about sisterhood and strong women.

SUFFRAGETTE

Let’s throw it all the way back to the early 20th century, long before “feminists” was even a term for women’s activists and in fact, women’s activism wasn’t really a thing. Suffragette is a historical period drama that tells the story of a woman who finds herself involved with the women’s suffrage movement in Britain in the 1910s. I stumbled upon this film sort of by accident and just throw it on out of curiosity but boy was I glad I did. It shows the horrific conditions these suffragettes had to face (such as incarceration and force-feeding), being isolated by their loved ones, and facing danger and discrimination all because they were fighting for justice. It’s extremely interesting, and I highly recommend watching it to get an idea of the severity of the suffrage movement.

MAMMIA MIA! & MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN

Yes, I included both the first and the second Mamma Mia films. In their own ways, they are absolutely chock-full of girl power and sisterhood and all the things you’d love to see in a film about women. The first film, of course, focuses on Sophie trying to find her father. However, it’s really about the relationship between mother and daughter, and the power that comes from that sort of love. In the second film, you can see generations of strong women and how they interact with each other which is amazing. Donna Sheridan is one of the strongest female characters in the world. It also puts emphasis on single motherhood and positive female friendships, as well as slams down any kind of slut-shaming because it’s 2019 and we ain’t about that anymore.

PRINCESS AND THE FROG

While this one might put some people off because it’s Disney and an animated film, please don’t let that deter you from watching it! It’s one of the most underrated Disney films out there. This film has an awesome positive message!! First off, it’s got a POC female lead, the first African-American star of a Disney animated film which is huge. Not only that, but Tiana is extremely ambitious, confident, and self-dependent. As a young woman in the 1920s, she defies the strict gender norms of that time that insist she settles down with a guy and has kids, and instead decides to open her own restaurant! #GIRLBOSS. I absolutely love this film so much and wish everyone would give it a chance.

LEGALLY BLONDE

Y’all had to have seen this one coming. What is a women’s empowerment post without mentioning the phenomenal Elle Woods? Elle Wood is incredible. While she appears at the start to be a selfish, snobby rich girl with no brain or determination (an overused film trope), she’s actually everything but all of those things. This film hits the nail on the head. It puts intelligent women at the forefront, gives icky men what they deserve, and highlights the importance of female friendships. Hallelujah. Also, this film gets extra points just for the “You got into Harvard?”- “What, like it’s hard?” scene. Iconic.

What female-led film has left a lasting impact on you?

Felicia x

5 Must-Read Books By Women, About Women

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Hello friends, welcome to Day 2 of my International Women’s Day (or, rather, week) posts! Today’s post is a condensed list of my favourite books about women that are written by female authors. Although there are many, many books out there about women’s stories that I adore, I thought that listing them all off would be a bit much. So I narrowed it down, even though it was very painful to let some of my favourites go. I’ll do another post someday with a list of more of these sort of books… Maybe for next Women’s Day!

With that being said, here are 5 must-read books by women, about women…

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Out of this list, this might be my favourite (though, with these contenders, it’s extremely difficult to pick one favourite). The Alice Network tells the story of two strong women from the two World War eras of the 20th century. The first, Eve Gardiner, is desperate to help the Great War efforts in a way that counts and her wishes are granted when she’s recruited as a spy. The second is Charlie St. Clair, a young American who became pregnant out of wedlock and is on a search to find her missing cousin in the aftermath of World War II. The two women reluctantly join together to embark on a search for the cousin, bringing their stories (and hardships) to light. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking story and I just love how brave each of the women are, in their own unique way.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

This is actually a book I’ve not quite finished (only about 15% left to read!) but have absolutely loved every second of. You may recall Gloria Steinem from yesterday’s post. My Life on the Road is her memoir about her years of travel, both globally and domestically. In her stories, she recounts incredible tales that you wouldn’t imagine have all happened to one person. Her journeys brought her face-to-face with remarkable women and really opened her eyes to different walks of life, not only across the world but in the very country where she was raised. I loved hearing about the people she met, the things she experienced firsthand, and most of all, her activism for women’s rights and equality. If you’re interested in women’s history and/or feminism, this is definitely one of the first books you should read!

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

I only just read this book at the beginning of this year, but it has left such a lasting impression on me, that I had to include it here. This book is unfortunately based on a real-life incident which occurred in Bolivia. In the fictionalized retelling, a group of Mennonite women gather in the wake of a series of assaults on the women by the men of the community. The assaults occurred while women were drugged, and they were told that they had been visited by demons. Women of all ages, including children and the elderly, were affected. Now, they face a decision: do they flee, do nothing, or fight back? The novel is told through the minutes taken during their meeting by a man who has returned from excommunication. The experiences of the women were so hard to read and it’s even harder to imagine that it really happened in our world, not very long ago (the 2000s). It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend!

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

Yet another very difficult read, sorry! This one is a non-fiction about a group of female resisters during the German occupation of France in World War II. The women engaged in actions against the Germans that were highly dangerous, including the distribution of pamphlets and information to other resisters. Eventually, they are imprisoned and not long after, transferred to Auschwitz. It’s disgusting, and painful, and disturbing. But the point of this novel is not to showcase the horrors of concentration camps, although it does do that very well; it is instead to show the determination and the sisterhood of the women who were captured and arrested. They were all by each other’s sides from the start to the very end, as many became ill or even died. Their heroism was incredibly impressive, especially given the circumstances.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Last, but certainly not least, is a far less gruesome or horrific novel. This actually takes a really depressing real-life story, and makes it far less tragic and even makes it quite funny! Lady Jane Grey had a tough life. She was only sixteen when she was executed, after being Queen of England (maybe not even officially Queen) for all of nine days before Mary I came in and had her - and her hubby - imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her story is short, and sad, and pretty violent. But these ladies decided to change her fate. What if she never died? What if she actually escaped? What if her husband was…a horse? Yeah, it sounds bizarre but you have to take my word for it. This book is phenomenally funny and entertaining, a perfect YA spin on a terrible mark on English history. After all, it wasn’t even Jane’s fault that she was Queen. Why should she punished? This novel primarily features a bunch of strong women, including the not-so-nice Mary I.

Do you have a novel written by a female author that you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments!

Felicia x