The year was 1999. JT was still in NSYNC, Britney Spears had just come out with “Baby One more Time” and Y2K was a legitimate fear. It was in this setting that the world was graced with the third best teen movie to ever exist (first being Clueless, and second Mean Girls). Along with the movie came the feminist role model we didn’t know we needed.
The 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You, starring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon Levitt, is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew. Aside from it being insanely quotable, having the quintessential 90s soundtrack and questionable fashion choices, what has always stuck with me is the amazing character Kat Stratford. Kat was a refreshing change to the multitude of teen films that often fell into the “nerdy girl gets a makeover then the popular guy suddenly realizes she’s a girl and falls in love with her” trope (ahem, She’s All That). Instead, the film focuses on creating a multi-dimensional female lead without the need to beautify her. I love Kat because I see a lot of myself in her. She is one of the few female leads in romantic comedies that I have truly related with. What I love most about her is that she is an unflinching feminist. Here are a few reasons why I think Kat Stratford is a great role model for young women.
1. She is the original sass queen.
I mean, just look at her death stare.
Literally, 80% of the movie is Kat throwing mad shade. While highly entertaining, Kat’s abrasive personality is mostly a cover-up to protect herself from getting hurt again. I appreciate this because it shows that she is like all of us. We’ve all had something or someone happen to us that has changed us. Kat is very tough, almost to a fault. Towards the end of the film we find out why she is the way that she is, and it makes us love her even more.
2. She calls out patriarchy
In one sentence, Kat perfectly explains the system of patriarchy. Casual sexism and white privilege are so normalised that most people often don’t even notice it. That is why It is so important to check your privilege.
3. She isn’t here for the male gaze
In one quick swoop, Kat refuses the commonly held belief that women only do things for men’s attention. She knows that she is worth more than the number of admirers she might have.
4. She speaks her mind
Kat is a woman that is not afraid to express herself, no matter who it is. She never holds back, and that is so refreshing. Furthermore, she loves that people think she’s a bitch. The label “bitch” is commonly applied to a woman who speaks her mind. Kat know this, and that is why she challenges the status quo.
5. She stays true to herself
In todays image conscious world, its important for young people to have a role model that doesn’t give in to peer pressure. Kat know that the only person you need to impress is yourself. Kat marches to the beat of her own drum and doesn’t care what other people think about her. And that’s pretty cool.
All in all, I think its pretty fair to say that Kat is an amazing role model. You do you, Kat.