When I played “The Princess and the Frog” for my little cousin, I thought I was showing her an example of a driven, hardworking woman. I thought I was giving her a role model. Even when I wasn’t expecting her to understand everything about the movie –– my cousin is only six years old after all –– I did not expect to hear the following words out of her mouth when the movie was over:
“I don’t get it,” she said after a moment, still watching the credits. “If she hated being a waitress so much, why did she build her own restaurant? Why would she want to continue being a waitress?”
My heart dropped to my stomach and to this day I still get a little bit sick whenever I think about what society is teaching little girls right now. My innocent six-year-old cousin was unable to see a young woman as an entrepreneur simply because society has told her over and over again that business it’s not a game women play.
I am not entirely pessimistic, I know there has been much more progress made during the past year towards women empowerment. But there is still a long way to travel, and so many ways we can help improve the situation we live in.
At least in my head, there is one simple solution to this much bigger problem: more female protagonists.That means main characters in novels and comic books, strong female led movies and TV shows both for children and adults, proper representation of females in media, etc.
The reality is that we live in a world where women –– and particularly, young girls –– are forced to watch men in action over and over. The knights in shining armor save the day and damsels in distress can't help but to faint in their arms. Men manage to change the world and be successful, and their wives look really pretty whenever they pose for pictures next to them.
What makes it worse is that whenever we do get female protagonists in movies the critics are usually tampered with angry males demanding to see ‘more male led films’ –– because, obviously, the fact that over 80% of the films have a male lead is not enough for them. When it is announced that Tony Stark’s successor as Iron Man is a 15-year-old black woman who is enrolled in the MIT, the fans decide she is not good enough for them.
And yes, this is exactly about the fact that Black Lives Matter and feminism is not a thing we just "don't need anymore" in the world we live in. This is about letting little girls know that they are allowed to be powerful, ambitious, driven and courageous. This is about them knowing that ‘female’ and ‘successful’ are not contradictory, it’s about them knowing that sometimes women are the heroes of their own stories. It’s about them being reassured that when it is their turn to change the world their husband won’t steal the spotlight.
Is this too much to ask for? To have little girls look at older women with awe an admiration?
It’s about time women are allowed to do what they are best at doing: achieving. It’s about time the world realizes that women can save New York City the way they did in “Ghostbusters” (2016), that even blonde bombshells are brilliantly smart and able to ace their way through Law School, that being a mom doesn't stop you from being brilliant, strong and ambitious.
So no, I am not going to apologize about my anger outburst whenever a movie doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test (I mean, how hard is to give the women names and make them talk to each other?). I am not going to stop fighting until there are as many female leads in movies than male leads, I will not stop until all my little cousins –– and all the little girls all around the world –– have multiple protagonists (in real life, movies, comic books and tv series) to look up to.
I will not rest until women are allowed to be the way they really are: strong, outstanding and successful.