8 Movies Feminists Should Watch on Dates, From ‘Gone Girl’ to ‘Teeth’
One thing that's always confused me about the movie-as-a-date tradition is that, unless you catch the movie before, say, dinner, it's pretty impersonal to just sit silently next to each other for two hours. Maybe it's the pop culture writer in me, but I like to follow a movie up by talking about said movie. Comparing and contrasting the reactions of myself and my date to whatever movie we just sat through is usually a good way to tell what kind of person you're dealing with. A date shouldn't be a battle, unless that's what you're into, but movies can be quite the litmus test.
There's always a lot of back-and-forth about what constitutes a good date movie. With horror you can find excuses to cuddle up to one another. Romantic comedies and dramas offer the chance to watch two people fall in love. Award-bait dramas offer a chance for the both of you to stay abreast of buzz and get a head-start on your Oscar pools. Action movies offer lots of explosions to distract from the aforementioned sitting-in-silence awkwardness. Comedy is often designed to leave you in a good mood.
But there are a few movies I wholeheartedly suggest that feminists watch with their dates — movies sure to incite a discussion that will tell you a lot about the person you're on said date with.
This is probably the most warm-and-fuzzy movie on this list. A romantic comedy that centers on one woman's abortion, it's funny and romantic and just generally delightful.
Talking points: The abortion debate in modern society; how Jenny Slate should be a huge movie star.
This is, for those unfamiliar, a film about a teenage girl with vagina dentata — as in, her vagina has teeth. It's a horror film, which is a genre renowned for its greatness on dates because it allows for ample opportunity for physical contact during scary bits. Don't expect that to happen with Teeth. Still, this is one I've always had the perverse desire to try out on a date. This girl's vagina dentata doesn't "activate" unless she's feeling pretty intensely violated, and the movie showcases multiple examples of her vagina acting as its own vigilante defense system. I recommend watching your date squirm and then (especially if your date is one of those people with a penis) using that to talk about the role of sex and female genitals in society.
Talking points: The importance of active consent and what that means; the ways in which American society's relationship with purity and sex oppressed the main character until she decides to enact her own sexual awakening.
If you wanna go down the road of period costume drama, go with Belle. It follows the tradition of Jane-Austen-style romantic costume dramas, but the lead character is a half-black woman grappling with 18th Century English society. Her political awakening is much more crucial to the film than her romantic one in this movie.
Talking points: Representation in period dramas; Belle's relationship to her race and her sense of self, especially as evidenced in relation to her cousin and to the painted images of other black people; the UK's own history with slavery; the relationship of Belle's family to her racial identity; the relationship of this movie with the traditions of its genre.
I saw a lot of posts immediately after Gone Girl's release that argued that it would make a terrible date movie. I understand that, I do — it's a film about the (super) dark side of one marriage. It includes (spoiler) someone getting murdered during an act of intercourse. But hear me out: this film also triggered a lot of discussion around feminism. Besides that, it's just a generally twisty movie, and those always make for good post-date discussion.
Talking points: The gender dynamics of the film; the rarity of the kind of villain presented in this film; the rarity of actual false rape accusations.
This is a pretty divisive movie — a lot of people love it, a lot of people hate it. Neither lacks a richness of opportunity to spark discussion, however, and, whichever camp you or your date fall into, this remains a movie in which Megan Fox literally eats all of the men she can get her hands on.
Talking points: How this movie plays into (and subverts!) Fox's "image" in Hollywood; the role of Amanda Seyfried's character in conjuction with Fox's and with the wider allegories the film puts forth; whether you or your date consider this film "feminist" and what that means to you.
Thelma & Louise
This is a film that, at its core, is about two women who feel confined by their lives and by the patriarchy and who bust out of it — in a very literal, violent way. This movie was released in 1991, but even if it were released today it could still be considered revolutionary in a lot of ways — and that's both an inspirational and an incredibly tragic thing. This is a movie completely and utterly committed to its main characters and their relationship with each other.
Talking points: Rape culture; the underrated glories that Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are/have always been/will always be; Harvey Keitel's character's role as an ally.
Hedwig & The Angry Inch
This one's having a successful run on Broadway right now, but the film version's still worth watching and discussing. This movie deals a lot with issues of voice, and features a trans* main character who had a botched reassignment surgery. It's a rock musical, so there's plenty of color and sound to focus on, but I suggest using the film as an opportunity to talk about the itd complicated relationship with trans* issues.
Talking points: Hedwig's sense of self; the violence against trans* individuals, both at their own hands and at society's; the questionable and incredibly persistent tradition of Hollywood casting cis people in trans* roles (and then giving them Oscars for it) instead of actual trans* actors, and the dangers that come out of that; the fact that this movie never actually uses the word trans*.
A League Of Their Own
Another warm and fuzzy one. This one, unlike Obvious Child or Thelma & Louise, contains neither abortion nor suicide, so if you're looking to play it safe go with this classic. It did, after all, help along the feminist awakening of many who grew up watching it.
Talking points: The continued amazingness of Geena Davis; the impracticality of those uniforms; the heteronormativity of the romantic pairings in contrast with the film's queer coding.
Think I missed something? Tweet me @alannabennett and let me know.
Images: Roadside Attractions ; A24; 20th Century Fox ; MGM; Fox Searchlight Pictures; New Line Cinema