An all time favourite film is also another compliance of traditional concepts of gender. Femininity. When one hears this word what would generally spring to mind are the commonly assumed images of the classic female beauty – pretty, smiling, stereotypically beautiful and probably covered in pink. For my first and most important of 10 things I hate about stereotypical femininity – Films of today are often positioning viewers to agree to stereotypical constructions of gender, which occurs in the film 10 things I hate about you.
Clichd femininity in this film has been both adhered to and challenged through different characters in the film. My item on the list is that Bianca’s character fits the mould of a traditional teenage girl beautifully. She is pretty and adored by all her peers, she is perceived to be almost untouchable as she is described by Michael, a boy at her school of lower social stance as part of the “don’t even think about it” group.
She is shown to be into the assumed “girly” things as she explains the difference for her love for her Prada backpack, and the like for her sketchers. The character is sweetly spoken. She never uses vile language and still refers to her father cheerfully as “daddy”. My number three is that throughout the movie Bianca’s attire is always suited to the occasion, and carefully put together so everything matches. Small details have been attended to, for example cute hair clips and fabulous accessories.
The corny fact that she is followed around by her best friend Chastity whose character also conforms to the idea of a traditional teen girl is number four on my list. Chastity is originally shown to hang off Bianca’s every word as shown in the opening scene where Chastity follows closely behind Bianca nodding as she is being spoken to. She responds to Bianca’s words of ‘Wisdom’ with a plain “Ooh” in adoring agreement. This adds to the stereotypical construction of Bianca’s character as the ‘Queen- Bee’ high school sweetheart. They are both shown to be chasing boys, wanting to attend parties and going to the Prom, all of which reflect the conventional teen girl’s train of thought. Bianca’s predictable character is most successful in proving that viewers of contemporary movies are positioned to agree with these traditional views of femininity.
Ten things I hate about you can also be congratulated for introducing a character who does not comply with the traditional ideas of femininity. Bianca’s sister, Kat, whose name arguably has a slight irony about it, is a “heinous bitch” as described by her peers in the movie. My fifth, on my list of ten hates, is of the stereotypical female rebel. This is, Kat wears unfashionable and plain clothes, listens to “alternate” music is clearly uninterested in male contact – at first. Sixthly, She openly expresses she doesn’t want to do what everyone expects she should be doing.
She doesn’t have any desire to attend parties or almost anything social for that matter. Kat is an opinionative, argumentative and extremely independent and self-dependant character. These aspects of Kat’s ‘moral fibre’ come through as she of course continuously rebels against her father, as she expresses her often abrupt opinions in class and spends time alone in libraries and music stores, which is my seventh detestation. She is an extremely unconventional female character.
She comes across as an intimidating, unpleasant and unapproachable person. She is shown to be passionate about a male dominant sport, soccer, which really challenges the assumed image of femininity, but conforms fiercely to the female rebel character, which makes this my eighth object of annoyance. Predictably enough Kat’s character becomes compliant of the traditional feminine personality as she is coupled in the end with the bad boy character Patrick, which makes number nine on my list. Kat’s personality does not change, except maybe for discovering she can find happiness in other people. My final point, number ten, is that Kat becomes less sour, more affectionate towards hers sister, but still true to her non conforming values and way of life. So we have a character that has conformed to both ends of the stereotypical femininity scale in this film. Maybe they just can’t help themselves these days.
Unquestionably, films of today are active in expressing stereotypes of gender. Viewers are almost demanded to concur with such stereotypes, although if one looks hard enough they are likely to find conflicting factors. The question is are viewers of today prepared to look that hard? Probably not. Then again, the people creating these films clearly can’t help themselves but to make each female character at least fall head over heals in love with a hunk!