Mustang is a French and Turkish movie directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, and it received a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The movie is about five sisters locked away from society by their grandmother and uncle in a remote town on the Black Sea after they were caught playing with boys at the beach.
It’s a complicated story. However, Deniz’s focus on their female experience within a dangerously patriarchal community briefly relieves the characters from the darkness that surrounds them. In lighter scenes, the audience is offered sweet glimpses of freedom when their adolescence and femininity isn’t used against them but is simply allowed to exist.
Upon first viewing, perhaps Clueless doesn’t seem like Hollywood creating a space for the female gaze – but luckily, it is.
While the seriousness around womanhood has its place, sometimes a teen gal needs to come of age in plaid skirts and Calvin Klein.
The film directed by Amy Heckerling depicts a young girl who knows what she wants, how she will get it and who doesn’t feel ashamed to express herself outwardly – Cher doesn’t give a sh*t and you can’t contain her shine.
Lady Bird (2018)
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut snagged two Golden Globe awards, and it’s obvious this achievement wouldn’t have been realistic even a few years earlier.
The movie stars Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, and the audience is gifted a glimpse into her world, which is a realistic cinematic image of teenage girl messiness.
Most of the time, Hollywood wants its teenage girls to serve their male protagonists, they're a manic pixie daydream whose work is done once the boy loses interest in her conniving charms.
Lady Bird was the direct antithesis of that trope – she’s loud, brash, sometimes obnoxious, and unsure of herself, but she is also authentic and inspired by her yearnings.
Killing Eve (2018-present)
It felt important to add the TV program Killing Eve to this list because it's a rare show that depicts dangerous women with questionable motives.
MI5 agent Eve played by Sandra Oh, and Jodie Comer's assassin Villanelle aren't defined by their female sexuality. Instead, they are uninhibited by it as they explore their femininity through their merits, desires, and ambitions.
The show created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge would read femme fatale if a man wrote it, but through a woman's lens, the characters thrive without needing to be likeable.
Well, you can’t mention Killing Eve without Fleabag!
The project that shot Phoebe to fame depicts a character who instilled an unhinged excitement within feminist pop culture that is still uncontained two years after its final season.
The reason is simple! Fleabag is all of us, at our messiest, most undesirable, and unsure – she felt like the first time we could see our ugly as accepted and not a fatal flaw men want us to erase.
When Fleabag says, “I sometimes worry that I wouldn’t be such a feminist if I had bigger tits,” it allows women to embrace their imperfect feminism and to keep it real – even if it sounds a little bad.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Although a man directed The Devil Wears Prada, its screenplay was penned by Aline Brosh McKenna and its novel was written by Lauren Weisberger, so it still counts.
It remains a fixture of feminist pop culture because it was one of the first movies to take femininity seriously.
Flimsy female fixations over shades, hair length, and aesthetics meant business and were no laughing matter.
Although it took our protagonist Andy time to understand the world of fashion, once she broke through her internalised misogyny, she was transformed, not just literally but intuitively.
Alongside our hero, we also discovered that female desire is rooted within ambition to rise above challenges and to survive.
When Andy is trying to defend her job to her friends, she says, "Okay, she's tough, but if Miranda were a man… no one would notice anything about her, except how great she is at her job," this like initially went over the corporate worlds head, and it took a few more feminist waves for that statement to become commonplace.
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