1. CJ Cregg
I already posted about CJ at length
here but she's my favorite lady so I couldn't *not* include her in this record.
2. Erin Brockovich, Erin Brockovich
The American legal forum, despite slogans like “Justice for All” has a seemingly insurmountable barrier to entry. It demands tremendous privilege from its clients and the people who represent them. People think of the wealthy on both sides of the courtroom when they envision successful multi-million dollar verdicts.
Erin Brockovich, in real life and as represented by Julia Roberts, did her part to somewhat change that. $333 million is basic survival money to a population of rural people who have poisoned into cancer. It ends up being Erin, with her own struggles to support her children and pay her bills, who understood that best of all.
Most of the movie is about Erin's professional triumphs. However, the movie gives important clues into how feminism informed her private life. One of the reasons why we find Erin in such dire straits at the start of the movie is because she tried to play her life according to the patriarchy and it got her absolutely nowhere. When we see beauty queens on the pageant circuit, we're trained to think that they'll live a life as beautiful as their person. Erin has a tiara from her days as Miss Wichita but it's in residing in a cockroach infested tiny house that she can't afford. Yes, Erin has three beautiful children but she has two deadbeat ex-husbands who seem to play no role in helping her raise their children. It's when Erin basically says, "Fuck the expectations of my socioeconomic class and gender" that she starts getting someplace.
Ms. Sanchez: Let's be honest here. $20 million dollars is more money than these people have ever dreamed of.
Erin Brockovich: Oh see, now that pisses me off. First of all, since the demur we have more than 400 plaintiffs and... let's be honest, we all know there are more out there. They may not be the most sophisticated people but they do know how to divide and $20 million isn't *shit* when you split it between them. Second of all, these people don't dream about being rich. They dream about being able to watch their kids swim in a pool without worrying that they'll have to have a hysterectomy at the age of *twenty*. Like Rosa Diaz, a client of ours. Or have their spine deteriorate, like Stan Blume, *another* client of ours. So before you come back here with another lame ass offer, I want you to think real hard about what your spine is worth, Mr. Walker. Or what you might expect someone to pay you for your uterus, Ms. Sanchez. Then you take out your calculator and you multiply that number by a hundred. Anything less than that is a waste of our time.
[Ms. Sanchez picks up a glass of water]
Erin Brockovich: By the way, we had that water brought in ‘specially for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley.
3. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
A famous business expression says, “Rational people don’t change their minds. They change their prior decisions based on new information”. Elizabeth didn’t fall in Mr. Darcy after disliking him at first just because she’s supposed do that at the end of the story according to every romantic cliché. Rather, Elizabeth learned new information about Mr. Darcy and was both open-minded and open-hearted to change her opinion.
Elizabeth also is a prime example of one of my main favorite qualities for most of my favorite female characters- incredible enjoyment of life. Elizabeth certainly has her challenges- a restrictive society, two irresponsible younger siblings, a mother who would try anyone’s patience and a poor family who still expects her to marry up. However, through all of these challenges, Elizabeth just has a ball at living through the novel from her challenging beginnings to her incredibly romantic conclusion.
Mr. Darcy: This is your opinion of me. Thank you for explaining so fully. Perhaps these offences might have be overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my honesty...
Elizabeth Bennet: My pride?
Mr. Darcy: ...in admitting scruples about our relationship. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?
Elizabeth Bennet: And those are the words of a gentleman...From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.
4. Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Peggy is a very rare female character. She’s both an artist with a big imagination and a businesswoman with a calculating mind. This complexity is hard to find on TV in general, but especially among female characters who normally have to choose between being practical and creative. Peggy solves problems both ways. She comes up with a way to sell popsicles by making them represent familial love and then just as impressively solves an instance of sexual harassment in the workplace by firing the worst perpetrator.
Peggy: I have a boyfriend.
Joyce: He doesn't own your vagina.
Peggy: No, but he's renting it.
5. Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird
A hard-hitting story of racism in a sleepy southern town is told through the eyes of a six year old girl and that enhances the power of the story. This is because Scout is relentlessly honest even when it’s not convenient to be. It’s also because Scout represents how easy it is for children to absorb the racism of their elders and continue the ugly cycle. If Scout’s father wasn’t Atticus and if Scout, herself, wasn’t an exceptionally bright and empathetic child, she could have very easily absorbed and been cowed into the hate of her neighbors.
Of course, we can't declare all marginalization the same. Sexism during the Great Depression, the Jim Crow South and marginalization of the strange or mentally ill are completely different. However, it's not an accident that tomboyish Scout who chafes under the pressure to "act like a lady" is the main observer of the ugly consequences of racism and the main befriender of Boo Radley.
Scout: I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.