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Women, Sport, and Film - Fall 2005
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Women, Sport, and Film Question #2

Talia Liben

Question #2: Compare and contrast one Chick Flick and one Women's Sport Film and how they are shaped by social mores and societies expectations (or not) of women.

In this paper, I will discuss the ways that Legally Blonde, a chick flick, and A League of Their Own, a women's sport film, are influenced by social mores and societal expectations of women. I will also show how they are shaped, not necessarily by societal expectations, but rather by feminist ideals that are more prevalent in films these days.

Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde is a film that shows that women can be successful and still be feminine. Being feminine, or a "girly-girl," does not mean that a woman cannot accomplish things of importance, stand up for her beliefs, or be a feminist. Feminism does not get in the way of love. A film that highlights these themes and shows them in such a way that is appealing for young women and girls in an important one to have, because it belies many critiques of feminism. It illustrates an ideal that is beneficial for women in society, but it does it in a way that makes these ideals desirable for "feminine" females.

One of the most important qualities of a chick flick is that it ends with the female protagonist finding true love. Unlike most chick flicks, this film is equally (if not more-so) about Elle Woods becoming an accomplished woman, as much as it is about her finding love. Some lessons that Legally Blonde teaches females are: it is difficult for women to succeed and get taken seriously when they are attractive, but that does not mean that it isn't possible, and they should still aim at accomplishing their goals; do not give up, because working harder makes it more satisfying in the end; the men that are not worthwhile are the ones who are threatened by strong, intelligent, and sexy women; the worthwhile men are attracted to those very qualities.

It is true that Elle Woods got into law school by submitting a video tape of her scantily clad. And it is also true that she went to law school to be with her boyfriend. However, this film is a story about how she matures. She was at first a woman who only cared about fashion, friends, and her boyfriend. She becomes a woman who loves herself and is aware of all of her potential.

A League of Their Own
A League of Their Own is a film that tells the world that women can play sports and still be feminine. We see this very clearly with some of the characters, such as Dottie and Mae, who are both extraordinary athletes and very attractive and feminine women. In a similar point, though different, the film shows that women can succeed in sports. Also, women can be married and still accomplish their dreams. Marriage does not mean giving up on yourself or choosing someone else above you.

The film shows a nice compromise between feminism and love. Just because you are a feminist does not mean you can't get married, and visa versa. The character of Doris shows that women should not just settle for just anyone who will take them, because there are men who appreciate athletic girls. We can see this by looking at her relationship with her boyfriend, who she is with despite the fact the he treats her poorly, because she thinks that she cannot do better, since she is athletic and men do not understand that. But then, she gains a fan club of several men, and she soon realizes that she does not have to settle. There are men who find athletic women sexy.

The only caveat about A League of Their Own and the themes of feminism and success that it espouses, is that the women who play baseball, although they are great at it, must still look feminine while doing it. They have to look attractive, wear short skirts, and take grooming and etiquette classes. This, however, was the reality of the situation, and not the discretion of the writer and director.

In Legally Blonde, she starts off as a girl who just wants to be with her boyfriend, who gets into law school because she's gorgeous, who doesn't care about much else other than style hairdos and her sorority. But she grows and realizes she's intelligent, and can be both smart and girly. She realizes that she does not need a man, especially one who does not appreciate her for who she is. And she succeeds in both law school and finds a man who loves her because she's intelligent and girly. She matures throughout the film.

In A League of Their Own, certain characters mature to realize their full worth or potential Shirley learns to read, Marla, who everyone thought was so ugly and unfeminine, finds love and gets married, and Doris realizes that she doesn't have to settle for what she thinks she can get, and that plenty of men find athletic women attractive (she even gets a little fan club). But more so, the film shows it's viewers that femininity and sports are not contradictions, and that athleticism is attractive, and that women can be married and still choose the course of their own lives. It also shows that it is perfectly acceptable to choose a life as a house wife and mother, as Dottie does.

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