With season 2 of The CW's Jane the Virgin having been on Netflix for a few months now, and with me finally finding enough free time to get to it, I've been considering exactly what makes this show so poignant, what makes it so relatable, so identifiable, and what makes it feel so right. Besides the wonderful acting, the light humor, the dramatic telanovela aesthetic they've got going on, there's one thing about Jane the Virgin that makes it so special: its multifaceted take on modern feminism.
When I first started watching the show, I was skeptical. I never would've guessed it, honestly. I knew the premise: a Good, Celibate 20-something Catholic girl is accidentally inseminated, and thus, becomes a pregnant virgin. Hilarity ensues.
What I was expecting was very far from what I got.
Here are all the reasons Jane the Virgin is one of the very best representations of feminism in mainstream media today:
1. It's multi-generational
There's always a generation gap when it comes to social and civil rights views; some older feminists might not support the way younger feminists choose to live their lives, and the way they choose to express their ideas. Alba, Jane's grandmother, is a very devout Catholic who believes deeply in the sanctity of family. However, Xiomara, Jane's mother, had Jane when she was sixteen, out of wedlock, and never attempted to cultivate a relationship with Jane's father. She never married, and she and her mother raised Jane on their own. Despite the fact that Alba and Xiomara believe differently about almost everything, they support each other, and rarely ever judge. They are both acknowledged as strong women, despite the fact that they show their strength in very different ways.
2. It's not centered around a man
I know what you're thinking; it's feminism, of course it isn't centered around a man. What I mean is, there's no real emphasis on either relying on a man or not relying on a man. There is never any pressure for Jane to reject or accept being in a relationship. The choice is always, always left up to Jane, and her strength is never compromised or doubted regardless of her choice.
3. It's multicultural
Too often, when feminism is portrayed in the media, it's only portrayed with white women, probably to make it easier to stomach for the white males of the world. The main characters of Jane the Virgin are Latina, which is so, so important. Because not only is it an example that feminism should be inclusive of women of all races, its a window into another culture, a rich culture, and an example of a different kind of feminism.
4. Its women are diverse
They range from a slightly psychotic Russian immigrant with a soft spot for her ex husband, to a sociopathic, lesbian drug lord, to an emotionally unstable, alcoholic doctor, back around to Jane, a well-adjusted over achiever with high standards. Hollywood tends to have a Madonna-whore complex when it comes to women; they have one personality, or they have another. In Jane the Virgin, however, hard-hitting roles usually left to men are given almost exclusively to women.
5. It does motherhood right
Despite the fact that Jane still has academic goals after she has her baby, despite the fact that it breaks her heart to leave him to go back to school, she is never shown as being a bad mother because of it. Jane is still allowed to have autonomy, while also being a good mother.
6. It's all about choices
For me, this is feminism in a nutshell: women are allowed to live, love, speak, think, and act however they want. Jane the Virgin is a perfect example of a large group of women doing exactly that. They support each other, and a couple of them flat out dislike each other. They make good choices, bad choices, and questionable choices, but at the end of the day, they are always their choices. That's what makes this show so very special.