Lehigh students attend Feminist Film Friday on Feb. 21, 2020, in the University Center. The Center for Gender Equity hosts at least one Feminist Film Friday event each month. (Kelley Barrett/B&W Staff)

Feminist Film Friday sparks gender role discussion

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The Center for Gender Equity hosted a Feminist Film Friday event on Feb. 21, showcasing the movie “Mona Lisa Smile” to discuss the definition of feminism and the meaning of gender roles in society.  

The Center for Gender Equity hosts at least one Feminist Film Friday event each month. 

Melissa Callahan, ’21, who has been a project coordinator at the Center for Gender Equity since her freshman year, came up with the idea of hosting Feminist Film Friday events after taking an English course that fostered analysis through feminism. 

 “I wanted to have people watch, analyze and critique films from a feminist lens, because I think that many people could benefit from discussing movies in a feminist context,” Callahan said.  

 Feminist Film Fridays allow project coordinators and new members of Center for Gender Equity to take initiative in leading the event, and learn how to facilitate discussion questions that relate to feminism.  

Alissa Flores, ’23, another project coordinator for the Center for Gender Equity, led the event and said she chose to show the film “Mona Lisa Smile” because of the impact it left on her when she watched it during her senior year of high school.  

The film is set in 1953 and tells the story of a young professor at the all-female Wellesley College who is determined to change the outdated mindset that her coworkers and students have about a female’s role in society. 

Many women in the movie only have the goal of becoming a housewife.  

“The movie shows how women were pursuing life in the home and domesticity in the 1950s, versus how the professor was progressive and got a lot of criticism,” Flores said. “It’s a really feminist movie, but it mostly relates to 20th-century feminism.”

Alexa Giraudon, ’23, attended the event and said it was interesting to see how gender roles were different in the 1950s, but also noticed similarities between then and now.  

 Giraudon said the attendees re-watched certain scenes of the movie and discussed aspects of gender roles in the 1950s which were problematic.

“To me, feminism is having equal opportunities for anyone, regardless of gender or sex,” Giraudon said.   

Callahan said the Center for Gender Equity has allowed her to expand her knowledge about gender equity and to gain a different perspective on gender issues. She said she views feminism as being “unapologetically free.” 

 The Center for Gender Equity will host its next Feminism Film Friday event on March 20, showing three short films and discussing how each one relates to feminism. 

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