The film “Working Girl” illustrates the feminist fight and struggles of women in the work force in the 1980s to the present, every contradiction relates to the main problems that women face. The two main women characters in ‘Working Girl” represent the two types of stereotypes of women that establish themselves in the corporate world, Kathrine Parker and Tess McGill. Despite the film being an inspirational feminist story, the writer Kevin Wade created a love plot between the main character, Tess McGill and a side character, Jack Trainer.
This side love plot takes away from the main tone and contradicts the original goal of the film, to inspire women to break barriers. The movie did not require this love trope, if the film had a stand alone feminist message about women’s struggles, the theme would have been more impactful. The last contradiction of “Working Girl,” probably the most satirical, is that the writer of the film was a man, the gender oppressing women.
Working Girl,” depicts important battles that women are still fighting today, it brings light to the ridiculous judgments and barriers that women had to break to make it in the business field. Viewing the problems of working women in the 1980s and being able to relate to a considerable amount of struggles was extremely eye opening to understand that there is still much work to be done, but if anyone can do it, it is certainly women. The two main women characters in ‘Working Girl, Tess McGill, the ignored secretary to the well established and powerful businesswoman, Kathrine Parker.
These two characters reflect main two types of women climbing the corporate ladder, which are both feminists in their own way. Tess McGill is the ambitious employed women that uses her brains and her innovative ideas to increase her status in the corporate world. McGill believes in treating everyone as equal and listening to them because a smart idea can come from any person no matter their status. These types of feminists in the 1980s broke many barriers to be represented for their intelligence and not their appearance or status.
The other stereotype that contradicts the opposing feminist, is the woman that betrays her feminist ideals in order to climb the business mountain which is embodied by the Kathrine Parker character. By using her femininity as a weapon and similar tricks of gaining advantages as the traditional business man would do, then eventually cheating over her fellow female worker, reveals that this type of feminist will act like a man to advance her position.
Kathrine Parker flirted with a businessman to get what she wanted at a business meeting in the “Dim Sum Scene,” by using her womanly aspects to get what she wanted. Resulting in turning into the problem and stepping on other women and not giving them the respect, the problem they faced in the early stages of their career. Countless women in the 1980s were discriminated based on their gender alone, so they believed in order to establish themselves they needed to act like a businessman to be heard.
Women that related to Kathrine Parker’s character believe they need to act like their dominate counterpart in their business, since the attitude men were giving gave them respect and power, so women yearning for that status believed they should do the same. Her character resembled the traditional businessman by her character treating her secretary poorly and then eventually stealing her [Tess McGill] concept, betraying her feministic properties. Women had these unreasonable expectations, compared to the expectation for a man, to be a man, to get a low entry job and not even earn equal pay because of their gender.
Each feminist character is respectable, the stand alone intelligence wants to be viewed for more than their looks and wants to use their wits alone, while the other side uses their femininity and effortless adaptability into the “man’s world,” get what they want. Although the two characters contradict each other, they each broke different women’s rights barriers, the Kathrine Parker character was a cut throat businesswoman that was able to run with the men while being viewed as a woman, but she contributed to the oppression by treating women with less respect if they were not equal in status.
The Tess McGill character, broke barriers since she only wanted to achieve corporate power through her intelligence and by treating people below her with equal respect, since she once knew that disrespect. ““Working Girl” reflected the feminist fight in the 1980s, and by including an unnecessary side love plot, it contradicted the strong woman’s presence. The romantic trope that is essen countless chick-flicks with the “plan was a scam, but not my love for you” trope diluted the incredible strong female role of Tess McGill’s journey to be heard in a male dominated field.
The love connection between Tess McGill and Jack Trainer showcased a few issues many women are accused of using their womanly charm or sleeping with the man to climb the corporate ladder and not being able to achieve their goals without men helping them. If the film wrote the young woman to be able to establish and carry her idea alone, it would have been more significant and an exceptional feminist film. The purposeless side plot made it seem like Tess would not have been able to accomplish what the couple did, by herself, if this plot was excluded then it would have been more interesting and noteworthy. Working Girl” illustrated this problem as a valuable lesson, to work hard and still become a perfect wife, orchestrating with the husband. While this might be the goals for some women, this should not be the picture of success that young women work toward, women do not need to marry any person to be the best they can be.
This takes away from the strong powered businesswoman, breaking barriers ideal, since getting the job she was chasing after was not enough, she had to marry the romantic interest for it to be a true 80’s happy ending. This plot urpose was to convey that women can be a powerful businesswoman while simultaneously being the perfect wife. Showing a diligent female worker that is compassionate and affectionate while she makes strides in her career, gives an example of the “best of both worlds,” a loving wife and a hard working executive. Women in the work force getting the recognition they deserve along with the job they were yearning for is pretty incredible for the 1980s and adding the main character getting the man she wanted dimmed the bright light of the feminist success.
Surprisingly, women do not need to be married to anyone to be successful or progress in life, seems like Kevin Wade did not get the directive. Last but certainly not the smallest predicament, is the fact that this feministic film was written by a man, Kevin Wade and his true intentions for the script was to showcase the new immigrants in America, working women. The irony of having men direct and write this women’s right film is similar to person with fully functioning legs writing literature explaining the struggles of being disabled.
Since the literature is written by the oppressors of women’s rights, their make of the situation and view is extremely inverted. Furthermore, the main character, Tess McGill was not based off of any businesswoman, Wade created this character without inspiration from a woman that actually drove that path, which makes it seem unattainable. Having no real life woman to look up to, after turning off the television, made the journey seem romanticized and unrealistic in the 1980s.
Young women were not given many or no female business role models to follow after since business and politics are such a male dominate fields. The importance of women in the media is extremely consequential since they impact the young girls that grow up, thinking that working is a man’s game. A group or person outside of a minority group will never understand the oppression and write about women’s struggles respectively or correctly. It is the difference between someone experiencing sympathy, but think they can put themselves in the pposing side and empathy, knowing the fight and discrimination.
The message behind the film “Working Girl” would have been more influential if an actual businesswoman had done what Tess McGill achieved or at least based off of some individual. While Kevin Wade did a fantastic job at capturing feminism in the 1980s and everything, the cause faced, it contradicts with the theme of the film. “Working Girl” reflected the feminist movement in the 1980s, the hard working woman that is stuck in a sectary jobs uck in a sectary job since women are not viewed as equal to men.
Even the contradictions in and about the film showcase the many struggles employed women dealt with. The two different types of feminists, the woman that depends on her intelligence to carry her to the top and the other that relies on her feminine charm and status while acting masculine to blend into the corporate normality of the 1980s. As well as the issue that woman felt pressured to remain a housewife or that an important goal was to get married, by the love plot, this problem is still being struggled with today.
The love plot tried to explain that woman can be both a kind-hearted wife and a businesswoman, but it took away from the powerful feminist theme. The incongruity of the film being written and directed by men took away from the strong female presence and unlimited capabilities and created the situation too close to the reality in the 1980s. Men believed they were being over generous by allowing women to work even if it was for about half of the money they were earning. Tess McGill being created by Kevin Wade without an inspiration, made it seem that only made up character could accomplish the feats that she did.
The film “Working Girl” gave an inspirational outlook for women in the workplace and gave many young women hope despite for the sexist undertones. Viewing the issues that women in the 1980s struggled with and comparing them to current feminist obstacles, they are undoubtedly less of a degree but still the same issues. Despite it being almost 40 years since the 1980s, these injustices are still current walls that our society cannot tear down, hopefully, in the next 40 years, America will make double the amount of progress than the preceding years.