A League Of Their Own: An Homage to Feminism
If you do not remember A League Of Their Own it was released in 1992, but it took place in 1943, during WWII. It starred the amazingly talented Geena Davis as Dottie Hinson, Madonna as Mae, Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, and had appearances by Ann Cusack and Tea Leoni. These women were pulled from around the country to take part in a female baseball league, but ended up doing much more than that.
This movie was not only a star of its time, but it is a classic and will forever be. As I rewatched it this past week, I tried to figure out why it struck such a chord with me. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend taking 2 hours of your evening for a viewing, it is really worth it.
A League Of Their Own is a fiction, but it is loosely based on the life of baseball legend Dottie Collins, who pitched for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. And the movie was sort of a thank you to the women that took on men’s roles during WWII. Gender roles were shifted as men left for the war. Rosie the Riveter became a well known image at the time. Although originally a form of propaganda to boost morale and get women to work, she became an image of female empowerment for centuries.
However, when men returned home, women, used to the decision making role, were disenfranchised, and the pressure of being sole homemaker was no longer the only option. Of course, the feminist movement did not explode until the 60s, but this moment in history was an important stepping stone for feminism, it especially planted seeds in the ways women's role were to be soon perceived. In fact, there is a scene in the movie where a male character explains to another that "sending" (LOL) women back to the kitchen once men return no longer makes sense as these ladies are dedicated to the game.
As I watched this and other memorable scenes unfold, I realized this is a movie that portrays women flourishing in, what is still in 2018, a male-dominated sport. A League Of Their Own was shown in the 90’s, let alone it actually happening in the 40’s is spectacular.
That said, the double-standard makes this movie current and exact to women's reality today, which is aggravating.
Having these women play and excel at a male-dominated sport was not enough. The managers also required the women to do what men do while looking “presentable” and acting ladylike. Not only did they care more about the women being attractive than their actual skill at the game, but once the playing began, they were shining a light on their feminine qualities rather than their talent. As if the only reason anyone would be interested in watching a woman play baseball is based on her physical features
I mean is this true for men? To be honest, I don’t know much about baseball. I like the New York Yankees and know what strikes and outs are. But the only players I’m moderately familiar with are Derek Jeter and ARod, mostly because of their public dating lives. But do managers and scouts look solely for talent or consider looks as well? And if they do, I doubt they require men to take part in behavioral lessons.
This topic and this example has so many parallels to life. Women are scrutinized in places we are meant to be equals. Women need to wear makeup and do their hair to appear presentable. In politics women are held to a different standard. And don’t even get me started with school dress codes.
We all know men and women are not the same. But that does not mean we do not have the same capabilities. So shouldn’t we have to meet or exceed the same standards? And within the professional realm are men held to the same beauty standards women are held to?
Yes, many women love make up and getting dolled up. And it doesn’t mean all of us should have those requirements applied at all times. Requiring women to dress a certain way to look more feminine while doing the same job any man does is not only unfair, but it is sexist. It is also a slap in the face to the beauty community that is meant to empower women, not require anything of them.
This movie was an eye opener to me. It reminded me that although we have made amazing strides for equality, there is an unspoken understanding of these same requirements for women now. It shows amazing actresses and powerful characters that don’t just fall in line with the patriarchy, but stand up and start a matriarchy. With everything in their way from uniforms with skirts, having to take classes at charm and beauty school, dealing with misogynist fans and managers, and having their personal lives controlled, they still soared. They use the beauty of their spirits to prove what they knew all along. That they were more than capable.
And whether they were celebrating a home run or dancing their way through a club, their beauty radiated through their spirits, their team pride, and their sisterhood. A woman making a place for herself in a man’s world is not only a huge step, but it empowers women in other areas such politics, law enforcement, and education. This movie is only a small glimpse at what women have had face in reality throughout generations and continue to power through today.
Yes, women care about beauty. Yes, we want clear skin, silky hair, and to smell nice. But that is not all we are, not even close. The beauty that is seen in these unique and powerful characters makes A League of Their Own a love letter to all the women that have accomplished a version of what they did.
Photos via IMDB