I Just Noticed This Really Popular Anti-Feminist Movie Trope And It’s Pretty Alarming

It all started on a Saturday night; I was sitting in my dorm, browsing Netflix to find a nostalgic movie I could enjoy. (I’m not the most decisive person, so this took awhile.) And after contemplating the plots of over fifteen chick-flicks from the past twenty years, I began to realize a pretty common and simultaneously aggravating pattern. 

Here is the problem with teen films, particularly the ones with a female main character: despite that most of the movies don’t revolve around the concept of love, the protagonist always ends up with a boyfriend in the end. Even if it has little to do with the movie’s climax and resolution, the writers always seem to find a way to weave a romance into the ending. And, pardon my bluntness, but I’m sick of it.

This trend didn’t start with teen movies. You see, when we were little, we’d admire our favourite princesses navigating their fantasy worlds, and we’d support them as they endured entertaining struggles — a mermaid wants to explore land, or a pale girl hides from a witch with a pack of dwarves (I was never too fond of Snow White, as you can probably tell from my description). We watched the princesses with innocence and bliss in our eyes, soaking up the beauty we saw on our screens. But simultaneously, a particularly misogynistic ideal was drilled into our moldable minds: the princess can only get a “happily ever after” if they find a prince. 

But come on, think about it: that’s just ridiculous. No woman needs a man to be happy. It may be a nice added bonus for some, but it definitely isn’t the golden key to happiness. So why should the prince be the hero who rescues the helpless princess from the tower? Why should the prince be the one to save the princess from her curse? And why is it only a happy ending if the princess has her prince beside her by the time the movie ends?

Woman writing Photo by cottonbro from Pexels Unfortunately, princess movies were just the beginning — they only started the trend. The illusion that a woman needs a man is still heavily articulated in virtually every teenage movie.

For example, take my favourite movie of all time: Legally Blonde. The message is impeccable: work hard and don’t let anyone underestimate you. The movie is the definition of girl power — except for the fact that she ends up with the random TA dude at the end. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cute little detail. But I think the movie would sell feminism a bit more if they just left Elle happily single at the end, focusing on her career instead. Because, again: a woman doesn’t need a man to have a happy ending. 

Some other examples include: The DUFF (which illustrates that you need a man’s approval in order to remove your DUFF status), Easy A (where did he even come from?), Clueless (not a great character arc, and plus, they’re former step-siblings), and John Tucker Must Die (again, why is he relevant?). I could go on forever — the point is, these movies consistently spread the narrative that the only route toward a happy ending is to find a boyfriend.

Hopefully now that this has come to your attention, we can now focus on shifting our lens into a more feminist one. Let’s start thinking of success, happiness, and fulfillment as concepts that don’t necessarily need to rely on a man. Just remember, as Gloria Steinem said, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”