Modern Feminism



New goal in life- to be a Dora Milaje – Black Panther breaks the box office by hitting over 1 billion dollars! This movie is not to be taken lightly. Graphic by Jacquelyn Johnson.

By Violet Radmacher-Willis, Reporter

In the modern day, every person’s actions are somehow affected by media directly or indirectly. This means at a young age, children start believing what is right in front of them. Whether it’s gender and race conformity, or what society has deemed as typical through social media, music, and television. This normalization was questioned on Feb. 16, 2018, the day Marvel Studios released its groundbreaking film “The Black Panther.”  

This film challenged the institutionalized Hollywood that we have all come to know: white men or women secure in their sexuality and gender, while also following cisgender roles that are portrayed in media everywhere.

Black Panther is a movie that represents what it is like to be Black in both America and Africa. It destabilizes assumptions about people and places in several ways. First, the hero is a powerful Black man who condemns unnecessary violence while still portraying nontoxic forms of masculinity. It’s so rare to see this because Black men are rarely portrayed like this in media due to toxic assumptions of violence and anger.

Second, the person who heads technology in Wakanda is a young African girl named Shuri. She is the younger sister of the Black Panther, T’Challa.  She has an innovative and brilliant mind, while still having a free spirit. She is a Black woman who loves technology and education, is from Africa, and is a leader in her community. Shuri not only defied societal expectations by wearing non traditional clothes, but also because she was more intelligent than many; her position was hers not because of nepotism or because of her royal blood, but rather because of her strengths in technology and science. This is not usually how women are portrayed because society’s gender roles tell them they are incompetent when it comes to science and math, that they have to be compliant, and that are they not “cut out” to be leaders.

Third, most of Wakanda’s army is made up of women. They are called Dora Milaje Warriors. They’re a team of Wakandan women trained from birth to be some of the best fighters in the world when it comes to martial arts, hand-to-hand combat, and weaponry. They protect the throne, as well as the current Black Panther. In the film, when they are fighting the Gold Panther (Michael B. Jordan), it’s four against one and they have no supernatural powers. Seeing women standing their ground and defending themselves from the Gold Panther was very symbolic of the whole movie. It is rare to see a single woman in a movie portrayed as a warrior or a soldier, much less a whole group of them —  the idea that women are able to hold their own, no matter the obstacles or doubt they face.

Through a feminist lens, another powerful scene was when the leader of the Warriors, Okoye (played by Danai Gurira), chose her loyalty to her country over her love. In Hollywood, women are constantly having to give things up for men, whether it be their morals, their jobs, or their social life. Seeing Okoye stay true to who she was and still be seen in a positive light was a breath of fresh air.

Finally, the setting was a fictional African country called Wakanda. Not only is it rare to see such a popular film based somewhere other than the United States or Europe, but Wakanda is also the most technologically advanced country in the world, undercutting assumptions and stereotypes about Africa as a backwards, underdeveloped continent.

Black Panther broke media norms in the superhero genre. It brought to light universal racism as well as a need for positive Black female role models. Movies like these that portray powerful female leads and have a diverse cast are incredibly rare, and this movie definitively proves that this is what the world wants — Black Panther reached one billion dollars at the global box office in just 26 days. It suspended expectations when it came to superheroes, and it broke through glass ceilings when it came to both race and gender equity.