Lessons in Girl Power from Mary Queen of Scots

If you’ve had any access at all to a TV screen these past few months, you’ll have heard of Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie’s newest roles as rival queens in Mary Queen of Scots. The biopic follows the lives and rules of Queen Elizabeth I of England and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots in their efforts to retain their own power in the face of a highly male-dominated society. The film’s costumes, acting and story are all fabulous, but even better is that it sends some pretty amazing messages about what being a “woman” means and what you can do with that.

Spoiler alert: it’s anything you want it to be. 

Respect and Cherish Your “Sisters”

Mary and Elizabeth aren’t actually sisters — they’re cousins — but they’re the only ones who really understand the realities of ruling as a woman in a man’s world. The moments they seem to align or support each other are some of the most exciting in the film since it’s when you think everything might shape up. Not the case, BUT it’s a reminder that, as women, *cue High School Musical* we’re alllll in this together!

You Don’t Need No Man (Unless You Want One)

I cannot COUNT how many times I’ve been asked when I’d get a boyfriend. Sorry, what??? I’m happy single, thank-you-very-much — and I’ll stay that way until (IF) I stop being happy with it. Maybe I’ll be Elizabeth and fly solo. Maybe I’ll be Mary and settle down, have a kid, the whole shebang. The point is, despite surrounding pressure that girls get married and start popping out babies ASAP, you are PERFECTLY CAPABLE ON YOU OWN. You are complete, no SOs necessary. Make sure whatever you pick, it’s because you WANT it, not because you think you’re supposed to!

Good Friends Will Get You Through the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Mary and her Ladies are, in my personal and obviously entirely unbiased opinion, one of the best parts of the film. They respect her choices, comfort her when she needs it, stand up for her whenever they can and just generally stick around for a good time card-playing and cross-dressing and prince-fooling. Elizabeth’s got a retinue of gal pals helping her out too. So keep your girls around — when your husband hooks up with the musician on your wedding night, they’ll be the ones roughing him up. 

You Can Balance Motherhood and a Career …

Leave the sandwich-making in the 1950s please, gentlemen — even the sixteenth century was better than that. Despite everything stacked against her, Mary manages to raise a kid and run a kingdom for years before a bunch of conspiring douchebags kick her out. Screw gender roles and be who you wanna be, Barbie Girl. And if who you want to be is someone who does it all, I’ll be screaming YASSSS from the sidelines.

… But You’re Also One Fierce Badass if You Choose Not To

Mary may have gone one route, but Elizabeth, one of the fiercest English rulers in history, opted for another. Without a husband or an heir and with a plethora of advisors overstepping at every turn, she still managed to rule for over 40 years and remained staunch in her decision to rule alone. Trust me, there was wayyyyy more stigma around that then, than there is now — and if Elizabeth can pick her own way in one of the most patriarchal of societies, you can do you now.

Never Let A Man (Or Anyone Else!) Control Your Destiny

Literally EVERY problem the two queens encounter is some guy meddling against them. Religious conflict? Stirred up by a man. Succession issues? A manly fixation. Unsolicited murder because words didn’t work? Scapegoating for execution? Screaming about supposed sworn obedience? You guessed it. But this goes for literally ANYBODY who tries to decide your life for you. Who you are and what you do is no one else’s to orchestrate, so when your privy council starts to get a little too rowdy, make sure your booming regal voice is the loudest.