Final Project: Legally Blonde

The movie Legally Blonde was one of the most popular and well-known movies in the early 2000s. While this movie is seen as a lightweight, “girly” type of comedy and romance movie, I believe it demonstrates real struggles women face on a daily basis. In a nutshell, this movie is about a young woman named Elle Woods who initially sets off to go to Harvard to win her boyfriend back, after getting broken up with for “not being serious enough”. As she emerges on this journey to get him back, she ends up finding herself, as well as discovering she is much more than what people perceive her to be. She does this all while dealing with stereotypes, misogyny and sexual harassment. 

In the beginning of the movie, she is seen as a sorority girl who’s only good for shopping and getting her nails done. While there is nothing wrong with liking those things, many people underestimated her since she liked to show her femininity quite often. To them, they saw that as a sign of weakness. On several occasions, she was taken as a “dumb blonde” and tried to be fooled until she stood up for herself and proved them otherwise. Not to mention she was judged and not taken seriously for wanting to attend Harvard Law School. She constantly gets minimized by the people around her based on her interests and her appearance. Her parents didn’t have faith in her along with many other people seeing as for them, she wasn’t smart or capable enough to survive there. Although, nothing let that stop her from achieving her goal. 

As she continues to settle down in her new school life, she continuously gets mocked by classmates and teachers. Considering how challenging it can be to live and study in a somewhat male-dominated field, it is even harder getting knocked down and tormented by other women. This is something almost every woman has experienced in their lives and it is sadly something that is all too common in our society. We live in a toxic society where people stereotype woman which also leads to women bringing other women down and the cycle continues. In the movie, Elle goes against the normal “mean girl” stereotype by being this bubbly, sweet and sunny person, who tries to create a respectful environment with some of the other women in her class (mainly her ex boyfriends fiancé Vivian). Although, Vivian as well as the rest of them completely disregard that and become a cruel bully to Elle for no reason. This just shows how toxic society is and how it can influence people to be inhumane to others.

Later on, in the movie, Elle and some other classmates were assigned to work on a case with their professor at his firm. This was a very exciting opportunity for her since she had worked so hard to get to where she was. However, one night her professor was sexually inappropriate with her after everyone else had left. He also indicated that the only way she could make it as a lawyer was if she crossed boundaries and got sexual with him. After she immediately told him off, she left only to be accused by a fellow associate (Vivian) that she was the one to initiated this inappropriate act. This incident caused her question her place in the firm and resulted in her almost quitting law school, until one of her female professors encouraged her to go back and fight for what she had worked for. This event just goes to show how women are constantly being sexually harassed and violated in work environments. Not to mention that they are the ones who are more likely blamed for these incidents instead of the men.

While her initial intention to attend Harvard wasn’t exactly a good reason, since no woman should ever have to go out of their way to change and prove themselves to any man, she soon realizes to achieve all these obstacles for herself and to anyone who ever doubted her, all while staying true to her identity. She refused to let anyone’s opinions about her affect her work and success. Instead, she studied hard and worked hard to prove to everyone else and herself that she is capable. This movie was made at a different time, so some aspects of the film I didn’t necessarily agree with but there were definitely several key points that demonstrated the struggles women have to deal with as well as some positive aspects we should learn from.

Blog 3: Gender Equity in Indigenous Cultures

There was a visible contrast between the European and Indigenous culture when it came to their gender relations. Unlike the Europeans, the indigenous people were matriarchal and lived an egalitarian society meaning everyone had equal rights and opportunities. In the Indigenous culture, everyone has an important role that will in some way benefit their community. While the men do more of the hunting, women make a lot of important decisions-making when it comes to their lives and well-being. They are also more open when it comes intimate relationships before marriage and the term “two-spirit” which is when both genders are in one body. 

            In the European culture, men were seen as always in power while women were looked down upon and considered less important. The men in the women’s lives were always the one to make decisions for them or in general. Regarding marriage, it was not a personal choice people got to make but more of an obligation in society in order to have a status and later on children.

Both of these cultures can relate in some way to our contemporary western culture. The Indigenous culture is similar in the sense that both men and women play an important role in our society when it comes to daily affaires; from job positions, to household responsibility and financial situations. While there has been a vast improvement in our society between men and women, there are still major barriers that we have not overcome which is where our contemporary western culture is also similar to the European culture. Women are still seen as less than men which is a growing issue in our society.

            The aspect of the Indigenous culture that struck me the most was how open they are about their view on lgbtq+ viewpoints in their society and the term of being “two-spirited”. No matter what, everyone in the community is viewed as equals to one another which I believe creates positive environment and should be something we do in our community as well.

Blog 2: Beauty Standards

Social media is a big part of our society and is one of the biggest platforms where women and young girls get their view on how women are supposed to look like. The appearance of a woman says everything about her according to society. Society wants women to have a curvy body with a thigh gap, a small waist, luscious lips, no cellulite, big breasts and a big butt and the list goes on and on. It doesn’t help that celebrities are being praised for their bodies when no one actually knows what they get done to look a certain way. Many women believe that by achieving the look portrayed by celebrities and models, it will make men want them more. The fact that most women will do things to change their appearance for the approval of others and not themselves is very alarming. This creates extremely negative and toxic expectations for women.

There’s an increasing amount of pressure for women to look a certain way that is accepted by everyone. Young girls and women will go to certain extremes in order to achieve these beauty standards that they think will make them more accepted by everyone. Some will turn to eating disorders while others will turn to plastic surgery to change their appearance. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “since 2000, overall procedures have risen 115 percent, but the types of procedures patients are choosing are changing.” This just goes to show the need to look “perfect” no matter the circumstances, is a risk women are willing to take just to be able to please society’s view. Since girls/women are always exposed to these so called “perfect” bodies on social media, they are getting the wrong image and only becoming more and more self-conscious about themselves and have a lower self-esteem.

There is a serious lack of diversity in our society today. Not only body wise but also when it comes to race. This is something more people need to realize in order to change our views for the better. So many women on social media look similar to one another that people start believing that is how you are supposed to look. Its unhealthy for women to constantly be exposed to this notion of beauty. As a society and a community, we need to realize how being different from others is just as beautiful. We need to change these unattainable beauty expectations and be more open to diversifying our society’s view on women.


Blog 1: Defining Feminism

The feminist movement should be viewed in a more positive and powerful way than it is now. Our society doesn’t necessarily understand the true meaning of what being a feminist is, which is why it is such a controversial topic and causes many people to have a false sense of its significance and see it negatively. After reading their articles, we can agree that Jessica Valenti and Bell Hooks both shared similar thoughts and opinions on what feminism is. It is about empowering women and standing up for what they believe they deserve in all aspects of society (social, political, economic, etc.). Both authors explain how feminism is not about being “anti-male, anti-sex”, but rather about having equal opportunities and respect for one another. Many people have trouble grasping this point in feminism. 

In Jessica Valenti’s article, she expands more on the issue of how there are many stereotypes about what people think feminists look like when in reality women should be able to express themselves freely and not have to follow certain norms in society. Valenti believes that feminism is about “making your life better”. As women, we often experience situations where we are made to feel as if we are not good enough or not worthy enough. Being able to see through that and realize we are, can help us feel good about ourselves and learn self-respect. On the other hand, Bell Hooks focuses more on the issue of male domination and ending sexism. She shows how feminism essentially challenges the thought of male domination by fighting for our rights and standing up for ourselves. While they talk about this topic from different viewpoints, they are both conveying the same important message about bringing awareness to this topic. I believe it is important for these authors since it’s time to change the way people view feminism. They have grown up and lived in a society that has degraded women for so long that it is time to change this way of thinking.

While reading these two articles, many things they mentioned were very eye-opening for me. One of the biggest things that struck me was in Jessica Valenti’s article when she was explaining how the worst thing a guy (or anyone) can be called is a girl when it comes to insults and so on. It made me realize how often I have witnessed that in school or between a group of people and not understanding the true meaning behind their words. 

I have always understood the true and important meaning of feminism, so reading these articles didn’t change anything for me when it came to the definitions. Although, reading these articles did give me a lot more knowledge on things I didn’t think about before and made me realize how many problems women face on a daily basis which was very eye-opening for me.

Blog 4: Kate Marvel

Kate Marvel is a climate scientist at Columbia University, an associate research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for space studies, a teacher and a writer. She majored in physics and astronomy and has a PhD in theoretical physics. Near the end of her graduate school and the beginning of her career as a scientist, she realized she wasn’t satisfied with the field of work she was going towards. She wanted to work with science in a way that would bring more of an importance to people’s lives and make more of a difference in society and the way they view science in relation to the climate issue. This is where she found her love for climate science. She is a passionate spokesperson for climate science and focuses on spreading the right information about the dangers and effects of climate change from a scientific point of view, at a time where it is very misunderstood and where we need it the most. 

Since I had never heard of climate science, let alone Kate Marvel herself, I found her journey into the science world very intriguing and inspiring. There have always been barriers between men and women in the work force; especially when it comes to science. Since the majority of people assume scientists are dominated by men, it created a lot of doubt on her from others. In an interview she explained how people expected her to fail in her line of work: “You get a lot of people calling you stupid and uninformed in ways that they wouldn’t say to somebody who looks more like the stereotypical view of a scientist.”. Regardless of all the negativity being put on her, it never stopped her from pursuing her passion and only gave her strength to be better at a time where it would’ve been so easy to give up. This is one of the many reasons why I admire her and consider her an inspiration, especially in the science world. She has also been able to use her knowledge and platform as a respected scientist to not only publish journals on her work but teach students at universities and adults at the annual TED Talks or other major conferences to expand peoples understanding on this growing issue.

What I find inspirational about Kate Marvel is how she doesn’t accept the stereotypical views about men and women in science. She’s realized and spoken on the issue that women have always had a specific role of expanding the family and being home when that shouldn’t be the only option young girls have to hear when thinking about their future.  


By: Alexa Vacante