Friday, April 25, 2008

Baggio: Media Analysis

The film Erin Brockovich has made over 125 million dollars in the US and is based on a true story of a woman struggling through life as a mother and a workingwoman ( Erin is a single mother, raising three children while trying to maintain a successful career as a secretary. Reviewing this movie through a feminist perspective, I argue that it contains ideas from both the second and third waves of feminism. It focuses on the issues from the second wave of motherhood and careers, but it also touches on issues of sexual empowerment from the third wave.
Erin is a strong, attractive woman in her early 40’s, trying to raise a family and gain a position of respect within the workplace, as well as try to discover her destiny. According to Elaine Roth, there are “many moral questions circulating in the USA at the turn of the millennium, such as whether mothers should work and whether corporations are corrupt”( This film touches on these questions and provides evidence that women can indeed be excellent mothers while maintaining a successful career. Women can have relationships without feeling as though they have to fall into the traditional male and female roles. And women can use their sexual features to gain necessities, acknowledgment and an advantage over men.
First, there are issues from the second wave presented in which Erin challenges the traditional roles of males and females in relationships. Although she has been married and divorced twice, she now knows that she has the capability to care for herself and her children without the support of a man. True, she lets her male neighbor who she is having a relationship with baby-sit her children while she is working, but she refuses his offer for her to quit working. He wanted to be the one to provide for her and the children, and while this is a noble act, Erin decides she has to prove to herself and everyone else that she can care for them on her own. Giving in to the “traditional” relationship, in which a man provides for a woman, Erin would be devaluing herself and her abilities.
Another issue from the second wave of feminism that the film touches on is motherhood and the workforce. It was and still is a well-known fact that supposedly women cannot raise healthy and respectful children if she is working. “Erin must find the place to love them [her children] and still achieve her glory”( The fight for the right to raise children and have a career has been around for decades, although it has not been as predominant as movement for sexual empowerment. But this movie reintroduces the audience the fact that equality within the workforce is far from being achieved and that we must continue fighting for what we deserve. Women have every right and all the capacity to instill good manners and morals within their children while making a profit within the workforce. Erin practically begs for the secretarial job, and in the beginning she struggles in preserving her relationships with her children, but in the end she learns to balance her career and the raising of her children.An issue raised in this film from the third wave of feminism is sexual empowerment. Erin Brockovich understands the power of her body and the effect that it has on men. She uses her sexual prowess to manipulate her male counterparts to complete tasks for her that they wouldn’t usually complete. Towards the middle of the movie, Erin needs to acquire some records that a young man is not allowed to release to her. After she unbuttons her shirt to reveal more of her chest and hikes up her skirt to reveal more of her legs, the young man allows her to have all of the records she would like. Women hold a spell over men in which they can attain almost anything they desire through their sexual attributes. Erin acknowledges these advantages and makes them worth her while. “The film heralds her as a good mother, primarily for her traditional ability to empathize, her scrappy resilience, and her work ethic”(Roth).
The film Erin Brockovich brings forth ideas from both important feminist eras. It doesn’t only center on sexual empowerment, a movement of the third and current wave of feminism, but it brings forward the issues of the second-wave as well. The film presents Erin as a strong-willed, determined woman, who will fight for her right to work while raising her children. This film is evidence that while it may seem that some issues have been forgotten in the modern fight for feminism, the issues never disappear.

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