Media has been one of the greatest influencers of gendered patterns and identities, often in a negative way. Now, as we have begun to become more aware and earnestly want to change the narrative, what better to do it than through media? I’d anytime recommend these movies and a series that I watched in the past year and absolutely loved for the beautiful portrayal of the spectrum of gender.
Vita & Virginia
The English poet, novelist, and landscape designer Vita Sackville-West was intensely infatuated with Virginia Woolf ever since they met each other at a costume party. Vita made Virginia felt adored and appreciated and Virginia deeply loved Vita’s respect for women. While they were open about their relationship, the British society at that time was very conservative. Yet, their love remained ever alive through the letters they penned. “I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia…It is incredible how essential to me you have become,” wrote Vita Sackville-West to Virginia. The love they had ultimately inspired Virginia to write her revolutionary novel, Orlando.
Vita & Virginia is a romantic drama that tells the story of their love that never went beyond the poetic words that came of their creative genius. The movie is a modern take on their story, a bold and entertaining one. The monologues highlight the exquisite writings of these bisexual literary heroes which make it worth the watch.
Struggling with your sexual orientation under the oppression of an Edwardian society is hard. Maurice is a 1987 English romantic drama based on the 1971 novel by E. M. Forster who was a closeted gay man himself. In terms of the theme, Maurice is way ahead of its time. It is a story of homosexual love in the early 20th century before World War 1 in England where homosexuality was a punishable offence. The movie captures the period so meticulously.
Clive, an aristocrat declares his love to Maurice but has an idealistic and platonic view of it. Soon Maurice, the pursued becomes the pursuer. Homosexuality was seen as evil hallucinations that need to be overcome which puts Clive in a difficult position- to choose between his life of status, family responsibilities or one of freedom and expression in the dangerous atmosphere of homophobia.
A movie set in the more modern times, Moonlight is a coming of age story of an African man, detailing three stages of his life. Dealing with universal themes of sexuality, family, identity and masculinity, the movie still stays grounded. The conflict a boy faces within as he struggles to identify with himself, first as a child, then as a teenager and eventually an adult rises and falls like an ebbing tide.
All through the story we see that all it takes is kindness and pure human connection to nurture us and help us grow. Moonlight is the right title to describe this heartbreaking and eloquent movie. It is also the first LGBTQ-related film with an all-black cast, to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
When we think of the Equal Rights Amendment, Gloria Steinem and Phylis Shlafley come to mind, two powerful women- one a feminist and the other a conservative activist who stood against her. Mrs. America, is art in every aspect- capturing the modern viewer with brilliant performances that sweep you off your feet and bring you to an era that is loyal to the 70s.
Gloria’s optimistic movement leaves you brimming with positivity and at the same time we are reminded that Phylis stopped it from becoming a reality. The duality runs through the mini series like a tug of war between the feminists and anti-feminists that is played so well, it doesn’t turn into hate.
Okay, folks! These were my top picks to understand the history of gender and shape its future better. Tell me yours.
images source: IMDb