10 Movies That Promote Strong Women
March is Women’s History Month, a celebration of the contributions of women to society over the course of history. It’s an important time to promote the strength of females around the world and to teach the next generation of ladies that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. There’s no such thing as “the weaker sex”!
Thankfully, pop culture is catching up to the power of women in this day and age. Movies and television are slowly but surely featuring more strong female characters and providing us with some truly inspiring and tough female role models. Here are ten movies that promote strong women, including films for kids and adults alike.
While most parents have probably seen Disney’s Frozen about ten too many times, there’s no denying that Frozen is a great representation of the bond between sisters and the importance of being honest and true to yourself. It also shows that it’s important for a young woman to know a man before falling head over heels—and the relationship between Elsa and Anna is the main focus of the story, not Anna’s love life like so many other Disney movies.
Merida is obligated to marry, yet she determinedly refuses to do so and, instead, marches to the beat of her own drum—wanting nothing more than to follow her own path in life. Brave teaches young girls to follow their heart and to never let someone else make decisions for you.
Mulan might be the most feminist animated Disney movie out there! Mulan goes to war in place of her elderly father, to protect him and prove herself and, in the process, saves all of China from the Huns. In the end, it’s implied that she and Shang end up together, but the real happy ending is her success in saving the day!
Ambitious Tiana works tirelessly to save money for her own restaurant. Her great work ethic and determination are traits that make her stand out as a tough role model for young girls. Even Charlotte, the southern belle who’s determined to marry the prince, actually has some merit of her own. Sure, she’s a bit melodramatic and spoiled, but she’s confident and strong-willed and, most importantly, deeply kind despite her high station in life. Being your own woman means knowing who you are and owning it, no matter what that might look like to others!
Hermione Granger remains my hero to this day. We all know that Harry and Ron would’ve been goners in the first book/movie if it weren’t for Hermione. Time and time again, her impressive intelligence and bravery saved the day for the trio; without her, Voldemort would still be terrorizing the wizarding world! She’s arguably the smartest girl in school and refuses to be bullied for it, and her loyalty to her friends and loved ones is unfaltering.
All Katniss wanted from the beginning was to save and protect her little sister. During the games, she fights tough and smart and survives against all odds. She’s then swept up in a revolution she initially wanted no part of, and becomes the hero for all of Panem. She’s a flawed girl (which is so important to recognize because we ALL have flaws)—her temper and stubbornness tend to get her into trouble, but she steps up to her responsibility and does what she has to for her country and those whom she loves.
Hear me out! Just like Charlotte of Princess and the Frog, feminism means something different to every woman. Yes, the Clueless main character Cher can be a ditz and on the surface seems shallow and spoiled. But Cher knows who she is and what she wants. She doesn’t let boys treat her badly, and she refuses to be controlled by anyone. She also takes good care of her single father. And she takes on a personal mission to improve the lives of those around her such as romantically setting up two of her teachers and helping a socially-awkward girl make something of herself. You don’t have to fight evil and reign victorious to be a strong woman; being strong often means being true to yourself and simply being a good person.
Black Widow/Natasha is a tough-as-nails superhero who has always held her own with the otherwise entirely male team of Avengers. She constantly beats down bad guys and does what she has to do to get the job done. We see some of her backstory in the second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, and she clearly had a VERY rough upbringing, which makes her ability to persevere and protect others even more inspiring. And with Age of Ultron, we’re introduced to Scarlet Witch/Wanda, who starts out fighting with her brother for revenge but comes to join the Avengers. She’s got scars of her own and is a strong, complicated character who only wants to fight for what is right.
Now give us a Black Widow movie, already!!
Skeeter is a young woman stifled in the 1960s by expectations of marriage and propriety. She’s a writer who wants to prove herself, and along the way she is swept up in a civil rights crusade. She bravely joins up with the African-American maids of Jackson, Mississippi, to reveal their hardships and abuse, and struggles with them against persecution to stand up for what is right. Skeeter is an amazing role model since she stands up for those who are oppressed, and she stands firm despite intolerance and hate that was all too common in her surroundings.
This is definitely one for older audiences. An article about strong women in movies simply cannot exclude Furiosa; she is arguably the strongest, most amazing female character in recent years. In a savage society dominated mostly by men, Furiosa is a leader of the “war boys” and is in charge of driving the massive, daunting War Rig truck. We learn she’s defied the tyrant Immortal Joe and taken his abused “wives” away from him, to rescue them from their slavery. Once they’ve teamed up with Max, she viciously and expertly fights to protect the wives and rescue herself and them from Joe’s tyranny. There are multiple scenes where she dominates, and Max even recognizes her skill and allows her to take the lead on many occasions. Did I mention she only has one arm, her missing arm being substituted with a metal, mechanical one? Furiosa is absolutely incredible and one of my favorite characters, male OR female, of all-time!
There are many, many more outstanding female characters. What are your favorites? Share in the comments below!
Liz Hooker is a member of the K12 marketing team and a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff. She's always had a soft spot for working with kids, stemming from growing up the oldest of six children. Her youngest brother is on the autism spectrum, so she feels very strongly about learning tailored to the needs of the child. Liz's love of literature and writing has followed her through her stints working at bookstores and she hopes to one day be a novelist—if she can just put down the video game controllers long enough to write her masterpiece.