Women struggles as told by Fan Girl, The Queen’s Gambit, and Enola Holmes
The year 2020 saw an all-out array of events, but even so, it gave us shows that provoked some thoughts on how we see the world and the people in it. More than the visually pleasing scenes and jaw-dropping plot twists on screen, here are some tales that touch on exploring the narrative of women, along with their struggles within today’s society.
Fan girl, hypnotized by the patriarchy
Far from the usual fangirl-slash-idol stories that we are familiar with, Antoinette Jadaone’s Fan Girl is a mature work that tackles what goes within and beyond the rose-colored glasses of fans, and the cruel reality behind their idols. Brought to you by the same director of Alone/Together and Never Not Love You, this film could be a rude awakening to some, and frighteningly relatable to others.
The story sets off with a light tone riddled with comedy brought by Jane’s heavy obsession over the fictional version of the Paulo Avelino we know. Eventually, the mood shifted after the obsessed fangirl met the truth behind the facade of her idol patterned with toxicity and fragile masculinity after a night of being together unintentionally.
After her discovery, Jane was transported back into the reality wreathed in poverty, abuse, and hatred. She had fallen victim to her own fantasies, a world where she worshipped a star that symbolized the patriarchy even if it put her life and dignity at risk. But even behind the dark and traumatizing encounter, she found the courage to stand up and correct the mistakes that were made.
In our society today, we see Jane within the people who are too blinded by fanaticism to see the truth behind their idols, forgetting that their idols are also humans with flaws like everyone else. Paulo Avelino may be a different person within Fan Girl, yet his fictional role speaks much about the rampant hunger for power by men even in these contemporary times. This kind of hunger is everywhere—in politics, the corporate world, and even inside homes. Society may have put the patriarchy on a pedestal for too long now, but just like Jane, we have the power to awaken ourselves and topple it down.
The Queen’s Gambit, striking greatness beyond gender
Chess isn’t actually renowned in movies and shows, and yet it gained popularity through the hit Netflix mini-series The Queen’s Gambit released last October 2020.
Based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name, it tells the story of a female chess prodigy in the mid-1950s to the 1960s as she quickly rose to fame due to her amazing skill. Wide-eyed Beth Harmon, who never hesitated to play against dozens of men, was utterly confused on why a woman like her was considered a threat in this male-dominant game. Make no mistake: this isn’t your usual underdog-turned-favorite type of story as incredibly fierce and determined young Beth went against all odds, even against herself. The Queen’s Gambit is the subversion of the male-dominated chess that highlights the underestimated capacity of women to achieve greatness. In our society, men are traditionally seen as holders of power, privilege, and authority. Harmon’s rise to the top does not only represent women’s limitless potential, but also signifies a step forward in becoming the most powerful piece in the game: a queen.
Enola Holmes, more than just Sherlock’s little sister
Enola Holmes, a Netflix film released last September 2020, shows how the titular character goes the extra mile as she bravely shows her interest to change a world that doesn’t suit her at all.
This idealistic and independent-minded heroine was brought up to feminist ideals by her mother Eudoria Holmes, who mysteriously disappeared on her sixteenth birthday. Similar to her mother, she doesn’t conform to what society tells women to do, like how she escaped a conservative boarding school that she was sent to by her older brother Mycroft Holmes.
Aside from finding her missing mother, her story revolved around a rescue mission to save a young lord on the run, the Viscount of Tewkesbury, whose life is in grave danger because his vote is key in passing the Reform Act in the House of Lords that will pave the way towards women’s suffrage. Although she developed a fondness for the young man, it didn’t become a hindrance for her determination to make sure he casts his vote that could make a difference.
This film is more than a typical detective spin-off from the well-known Sherlock Holmes series—it’s a testament for breaking all kinds of stereotypes that the world has against women. Enola proved that her social status and kinship with Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes had never been a crutch. Everything she was, she earned through her own power. She never needed a man to save her, even going as far as turning it the other way around, effectively waving off the common damsel in distress trope that was common for girls at that time. Enola Holmes challenges the idea that women are more than objects you can appreciate like decorations and instills that they are beautifully complex people that should also be heard.
History has witnessed how women rose to the challenge time after time, growing stronger and more empowered by the decade. This is no different in the realm of fiction, where proper representation matters and difficult conversations must be tackled. It is with stories like Fan girl, The Queen’s Gambit, and Enola Holmes that we are reminded how women are queens of their own right, ready to face the world and change the game any time.
As G.D Anderson, a feminist writer and founder of The Cova Project once said, “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”