12 Iffy Rom-Coms Every Feminist Secretly Loves, From 'Pretty Woman' To 'Bridget Jones' Diary'
Being a feminist and sticking to your values 100 percent of the time is difficult, even in 2017 (actually, especially in 2017). Once you learn about the various systems of oppressions which operate to subjugate women and maintain a patriarchal society, life is never the same. Everywhere you look, there's a new opportunity to observe problematic structural biases that perpetuate sexist values, and it's both completely exhausting and utterly depressing. There are plenty of awesome feminist characters in TV and film these days, but sometimes you really need a break in the form of a good ol' fashioned romantic comedy — even the iffy rom-coms that can be problematic for feminists.
Yes, it's true: feminists can still enjoy entertainment that doesn't completely align with all their values. It's nearly impossible to totally avoid non-feminist entertainment, unfortunately, so you may as well allow yourself to indulge in your romantic fantasizing if it still makes you happy. Of all the film genres, rom-coms probably reinforce the sexist cultural ideals the most because they're usually based on the false belief that without men, women are unhappy or unfulfilled. More often than not, rom-coms feature a women crying and being sad until she finally has her love interest's approval. It can be tough to watch, and it can be even tougher to want to watch as a feminist. Part of being a complex, self-aware woman means facing your contradictions head-on, though, and indulging in a rom-com is a great way to do that.
Many rom-coms are great movies, and it's perfectly OK to secretly love these questionable classics.
1. 'Bridget Jones's Diary' (2001)
It shouldn't be an exciting thing for a man to love a woman "just as she is," yet when Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) says that to Bridget Jones, it's hard for even the staunchest of feminists to feel some heart-flutters. Jones' obsession with finding a husband and toiling in perpetual "singledom" might induce some cringes among its feminist viewers, but that doesn't mean it's completely unwatchable.
2. 'Overboard' (1987)
Sometimes it's hard to watch Overboard because of its problematic woman-gets-amnesia-so-man-tricks-her-into-being-his-wife plot, but it's also so fun due to Hawn's character switch. Sure, an alternative title for this 1987 rom-com could be "Stockholm Syndrome," but as far as rom-coms go, it's still a classic.
3. 'Pretty Woman' (1990)
There are so many things wrong with Pretty Woman, from the slut-shaming to the prince-charming complex, and yet it remains one of the most classic rom-coms ever. If it seems like the R-rated version of Cinderella, that's because it literally is — it's technically a Disney movie. Now its patriarchal values all make sense.
4. 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' (1961)
Holly Golightly is a great character, and Breakfast at Tiffany's is a great movie, but the ending is one of the most cliche rom-com scenes there is and most feminists would probably agree that the movie would be better off without it. Nothing can be perfect, even a movie with the perfect Audrey Hepburn.
5. 'Trainwreck' (2015)
Amy Schumer's film showcases her humor at its finest, but then it takes a turn when her character attempts to change herself, give up her (albeit unhealthy) habits, and become more deserving of her boyfriend. While Bridget Jones's Diary's "I like you just as you are" line shouldn't be exciting, movies like Trainwreck make a good case for why it is. It's still hilarious at points, though, and Schumer makes for a refreshing rom-com star.
6. 'Just Wright' (2010)
Queen Latifah and Common star in this basketball themed rom-com. It's really funny, but it plays with sexist female stereotypes like the "less attractive hard-working woman who can't get a date" and the "hot gold-digging trophy wife." Still, it's irresistible thanks to the Queen herself.
7. 'Never Been Kissed' (1999)
The student-teacher romance is kind of hard to get over, but Never Been Kissed is enjoyable if you can convince yourself that it's not actually that bad since the student is not actually a high schooler's age.
8. 'While You Were Sleeping' (1995)
This film is kind of hard to watch at times because Sandra Bullock's character is so timid, lonely, and love-obsessed, but it's also quirky and cute so it's no wonder why it's a classic rom-com.
9. 'How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days' (2003)
Hilarious, yes. Iffy? definitely. In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Andie Anderson (is there a more rom-commy name?) does everything that women "shouldn't" do for a magazine feature. The movie plays on gender-norms and stereotypes in the worst way possible, yet it's still so good.
10. '50 First Dates' (2004)
This is another rom-com about a woman with some kind of memory loss which a man uses to "trick'" her into being with him. Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler's chemistry likely makes it a guilty-pleasure for many feminists, though.
11. 'The Proposal' (2009)
The uptight female-boss character played by Sandra Bullock would be more eyeroll inducing if The Proposal weren't one of the best comedies of the past 10 years. Sure, there's some gratuitous female nudity, but Betty White makes it all better.
12. 'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)
Billy Crystal as Harry Burns is often the epitome of a f**k boy, but that actually makes this female-written rom-com really great. It's still a movie focused solely around heterosexual romance, but as far as rom-coms go, it's ahead of the curve.
It's important to remember that the "com" in rom-com is short for comedy, and it's true that many of these possibly non-feminist films are just plain funny. Being a feminist is hard work, and getting a good laugh is essential to maintaining one's mental health, so go ahead, watch an iffy rom-com and have a few chuckles — no one needs to know.