5 Films Including Badass Ladies That Totally Broke Gender Roles In Sports (& Why They're So Important)
What's more badass than seeing a bunch of women dubbed "Angels" getting gritty on the football field and showing off their versatility? Practically nothing. Really, if you haven't seen the new Victoria's Secret Super Bowl commercial, I urge you... check it out. Not only is it entertaining and unexpected, it's eye opening: Despite being known for their beauty, this commercial shows that these ladies can rock a bikini just as well as they can throw around a pigskin (or at least pretend to).
In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you may not even realize that it’s them until they remove their helmets. But, that’s sort of the point. It makes you think... why didn’t you realize it? Can’t they play, too?
We've come quite a ways in the past few years in terms of stepping away from tightly held, archaic gender roles. Growing up in the 90's and trying to toe the lines between either classifying as a "girly girl" or a "tomboy," I knew that there was more to me than just being a girl — or being a girl who enjoyed both "girl things" and "boy things." But, as a child, it's what we're shown that really helps us to understand that: Films like A League of Their Own, Little Giants, and other movies that portrayed women being women who were allowed to like and be good at things that weren't typically "ladylike" helped pave the way for something as cool as this:
Here are the films that, personally, particularly resonated with me for their inclusion of a badass lady breaking sports-related gender stereotypes:
A League of Their Own (1992)
For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by this film. Yes, it was entertaining, dramatic, and funny, but it also intrigued me. Because, by focusing on this topic, they were able to present a literal interpretation of a socially disruptive time: The women left behind in World War II had to "step up to the plate" in society. Yes, these particular women played professional baseball, but that's not all they did. They were mothers, they were friends, they were workers. And, as Maggie Gyllenhall put it, they were "sometimes powerful... and sometimes not." They were human.
Also, they played a damn good game of ball, clad in pig tails, pin curls, skirts and all.
It taught us something else important: that there most certainly is crying in baseball.
And it didn't make the game any less valid.
Little Giants (1994)
Icebox, while far less fashion forward than I probably would have considered myself to be (though I totally wasn't), showed that it was possible to be both sporty, competitive, and fierce while also being vulnerable. And yeah, that I could wear my Limited Too cheer shorts and play two hand touch football with the boys on my block.
And thanks to this film, I did.
The Mighty Ducks Series (1992)
After all, it was Connie Moreau who said in The Mighty Ducks 2 , "I'm no lady, I'm a duck!" Which, obviously, is only partially true. But, when we break down Connie's zinger, we understand that while she is a lady it doesn't define who she is as a person. She was a part of the team as much as anyone else, and a valuable part at that.
Her commitment to the team had no bearing on the long, braided hair down her back. Because...
And really, can you even be rightfully weirded out by a girl when the entire team is pretending to be ducks?
Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
Effortlessly cool, talented, and self-assured, Keira Knightley in Bend it Like Beckham was my sporty hero. I was obsessed with soccer, Mia Hamm, and any woman who was considered to be "one of the boys," because I so desperately wanted to stop being dismissed as "just a girl," by my male friends. This movie made it more clear to me that it wasn't as important to be considered "one of the guys" as it was to be a woman who proudly enjoyed what made her happy, despite what people thought she should do.
She's the Man (2006)
Once you get over the utter ridiculousness of this amazingly campy movie featuring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum as mere fetuses, you can focus on the Twelfth Night inspired premise: Bynes's character, Viola, pulls off posing as her brother Sebastian and subsequently shows us the absurdity of gender biases.
And, that she's really good at soccer and she's allowed to love the sport as much as her ex-boyfriend does.
And it also gave profound nuggets of wisdom in the form of funny, yet staying, quips:
Really, these films showed that being deemed "unconventional" and "complex" is the very thing that makes you human: No matter what gender you identify as.
Images: Warner Bros.; Giphy (11)