Dear Hollywood: Give My Daughter More Movies That Aren’t Sexist Bullsh*t

Glynis Ratcliffe
Written by Glynis Ratcliffe

I never wanted to be a teen actress in Hollywood. Either you get cast as a princess, a spoiled rich girl, an “ugly duckling” who needs to be transformed, or you’re strong and empowered and you die tragically. In this world that already has huge issues with female role models in real life, the fictional ones we’re given are enough to make the mom of a teenage girl want to scratch her eyes out. 

Everywhere I look, there are opportunities for my two girls to be discriminated against, objectified, and made to question their worth. My Mama Bear instinct lights up every time I see girls very neatly placed in pigeon holes, being told they can do anything as long as they follow the rules.

It starts when they are five years old and watching cartoons, “You can be whatever you want! But you should definitely wear this adorable skirt and matching bows in your hair, because that’s so pretty!”

This message doesn’t really change as they get older. Okay, maybe there’s less emphasis on the bows. But really, take a look at teen movies over the past two decades: She’s All That, A Walk To Remember, The DUFF, even The Fault In Our Stars (though I’ll probably get some flack for that). The majority of them feature girls who need to be reminded of their worth by someone else. These kinds of movies just keep on getting made because… that is what society wants out of women. They don’t want messages of women-power getting out.

Don’t believe me? Look at what happened to the Ghostbusters reboot. They put a bunch of women as the heroes, put a man in as eye candy, and every basement-dwelling troll in the country made it their life mission to take it down. And what those trolls have been doing to Leslie Jones is beyond disgusting and far, FAR beyond mere sexism. (I cannot believe I would actually say mere sexism in 2016.) She’s getting racism. Hate. Harassment. Really? What century do people think they’re living in?

What I want to know is: how do we make a real change?

Right as I began to give up all hope of seeing a change in society’s view of women, along comes Kevin Smith, the dad of a teen daughter himself, who clearly agrees that we’re not giving women and girls enough in Hollywood. He made his new film, Yoga Hosers, and he put his very own teen daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, in the lead alongside Hollywood royalty Lily Rose Depp.

But you see, Kevin Smith did more than make the movie so his little girl could be an actress. He created a kick-ass world and used it to tell his own child and her friend that they can do anything they damn well want to. Yoga Hosers is described as beingClueless meets Gremlins,”  but it’s so much more than that: it’s a buddy film for teen girls that has nothing to do with fashion or beauty or being sexy. It has to do with two girls kicking ass and being funny. Like, completely over-the-top and hilarious.

So of course those basement trolls had to come out. I mean, it’s the internet, right? When the trolls came calling, he had his daughter’s back… but I don’t think that his message alone is enough. People like me and you need to back them up too.

The hardest part about being the parent of a teen girl is keeping up the good fight. Teaching them that they’re more than their looks – more than whatever their peers think of them – is a never ending battle. Every single opportunity that I have to provide better role models than this? I’ll take them, thank you.

Kudos to Kevin Smith. The Colleens don’t need to be reminded of their worth. They know that they’re fucking awesome, and they do what needs to be done, with or without anyone else’s help. That, my friends, is the type of movie I want my 15-year-old stepdaughter to go and see. It proves that girls can be funny and strong, that friendship is paramount and we are stronger together. Most importantly, it teaches them that it’s okay for girls to “think outside of the box”… and enjoy being there.

So I’ll be taking my stepdaughter to see Yoga Hosers when it comes out, because it’s smart, with homage after homage to genre films. Because it’s funny, in that typical Kevin Smith style (keep your eyes peeled for all the cameos!). And because it shows girls that sometimes, movie directors are actually trying to make a film with positive role models for teens that are actually relatable, too.

 

About the author

Glynis Ratcliffe

Glynis Ratcliffe

Glynis Ratcliffe used to be an opera singer, but after her daughter begged her to stop singing and be quiet for the millionth time, she decided to use her inside voice and write instead. Now, she’s a freelance writer with bylines at The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, New Jersey Realtor Magazine, and CBC, as well as being a copywriter and ghostwriter for clients in various industries.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

13 Comments

  • I am so with you on this! As a mom of three girls I am always on the look-out for ways to open my daughters’ minds to their true potential. Yoga Hosers sounds fab! I’ll look into it and maybe watch it with my eldest.

  • I couldn’t be more thrilled to see this movie with my 8yo daughter. She’s right on the cusp of outside influences having more weight than that of her mother and needs to see that she really can be anything outside the gender box she wants to be. No daughter of mine needs to fit in anyone’s mold but her own.

  • ‘Bout damn time. Hopefully by the time my daughters are a bit older, there will be even more role model options to choose from.

  • Yep – “you go, girl! But just make sure you still know how to be sexy eye candy.” The message is so pervasive that we dont notice it. I will be taking both my daughter and my son.

  • Love this post! I’m so happy Kevin Smith made this film to showcase young women in a different and refreshing role. More movies like this are needed for my kids to watch.

  • Perhaps you and your daughter should broaden your movie view. While it’s true that in “Hollywood” there aren’t alot of roles for women in films, there are thousands upon thousands of movies out there that have great roles for females. They’re just harder to find because they’re independent films. Look at movies like Perks of Being a Wallflower. While it’s true that the main character is a guy, the leading female role is the one who reminds the guy of his self worth. That’s just one example.
    It’s all a matter of where you’re looking. “Hollywood” most likely won’t change unfortunately, it’s all formulaic in it’s current state. And i’m still a firm believer in the fact that the reason there isn’t as many female roles is because there isn’t as many women working behind the scenes as there is men. Not because people wont give them the opportunity but because there just aren’t as many. Which sucks.
    I hope i’m not coming off as rude or that i’m disagreeing, i just thought i’d try to be informative. Look towards indie films for better female roles, not Hollywood.

  • Yes to all of this. And honestly, Kevin Smith is amazing. He rescued an abused dog, made a movie about girls kicking ass and he had his daughter’s back. He is the type of writer and director Hollywood needs more of.

    • Man, Yoga Hosers looks pretty stupid. I’m all for equality in Hollywood, and women getting good, well written leading roles that don’t resort to gender stereotypes, but Yoga Hosers LOOKS dumb as hell. Mad Max Fury Road was amazing, Furiosa was amazing. Aliens is one of my favorites. Ripley is fantastic. We have characters like Rey in Star Wars, Amidala, and Leia. Yoga Hosers does not look like a good movie, it looks like a ridiculous and unfocused vanity project for Kevin Smith. The filmmaking equivalent of a weekend BBQ cookout with unfunny redneck relatives who tell bad jokes that nobody gets. I’d be fine with this article if it wasn’t so hung up on Kevin Smith praise. Christ.

  • 100% agree regarding the films you mentioned. I would also include the Mad Max reboot in that list. I thought I was going to see this awesome tale of female redemption and power. Instead, I got a story where the female lead still needed the help of a man to get shit done.

  • I read this post before seeing the movie and had high hopes. I took my 15 year old daughter and her friend as well as my husband. We were at the premiere, so there was an introduction by Kevin Smith. While he was funny, it was inappropriate for my daughter to hear about him wanting to f*ck his wife.
    Then the movie…the beginning started as a typical teen movie and was funny. Then it became completely absurd. My daughter and her friend hated it. And when I told her he wanted to make an action movie for girls that showed them ‘kicking ass’ and fighting bad guys she said it was ‘sexist’ that he had the girls use yoga (and not even good poses) to do it. So there you have the opinion of the demographic he said he was trying to reach.
    On the other hand, my husband loved it, lol.