Photos taken by Ishma Khattak
Video Essays and TV Shows for Feminist Education and Entertainment
Where do I start?
How does a person start their feminist journey? I have often heard my own friends express that they would like to grow as a feminist but wouldn't know where to begin. The beauty of knowledge is that it can be accessed in so many different forms. Knowledge should never be inaccessible and that is why the following media is a great start to your feminist journey.
Not everyone has the time to sit down and read a book, especially with many of us in college and having a heavy workload. Some of us just don't enjoy reading and that is totally okay! For that reason, digital media which speaks to feminist issues such as video essays and tv shows can be extremely useful. TW: sexual assault
Let’s get Educated
Video essays are a great accessible alternative to reading. Additionally, they allow for a low time commitment, as they can be placed in the background while doing other tasks. They are a great way of getting information with multiple sources compiled into one that allows for people to do further investigation if they wanted to later.
Two video essayists that I have found to be influential are: Khadija Mbowe, a Canadian YouTuber who specializes in topics on body image, gender and sexuality and Monica Hernandez, a New York based YouTuber who speaks to issues surrounding body positivity, unpacking femininity and mental health.
A couple videos that I recommend are: “shaving is absurd- body hair, body positivity and why we fear what’s different :)” by Monica Hernandez and “The Feminine urge to Internalize the Male Gaze, unpacking desirability” by Khadija Mbowe.
Hernandez’s video delves into her own struggle growing up as a girl with dark body hair and the mental strain it took on her body image as it wasn’t often accepted in society and she was shamed for it. As she has grown, however, she sees her hair as a marker or beauty and makes her a more confident person. Her take is a fascinating one and begs us to question our own habits as our own or if it is expected of us.
Mbowe’s video delves into the male gaze both in media as well as real life, and how it impacts the people who consume this beauty ideal everyday. She expresses the toll that it can take on women and those who are subject to this male gaze. Additionally she addresses the very real negative effects that it causes to those who don't adhere to the societal standard of the male gaze and why that needs to change.
Cozy Up it’s Tv Time
While video essays can be educational, tv shows can be just as informative while utilizing storytelling which some find more engaging due to the entertainment factor. Tv shows can also be more easily digestible and less daunting for those who are beginning their feminist journey as they can be less direct.
Two shows that have opened the minds of so many to feminist issues are: “The Handmaid's Tale” based off of the book of the same name by Margaret Atwood, and "I May Destroy You" written and starred in by Michaela Coel.
“I May Destroy You” takes place in present day London, and follows the story of Arabella, who is a victim of sexual assault. The show follows her attempt to regain normalcy after her attack, and how she heals from the encounter as well as eventually finding justice. This is all done while retaining a comedic air and is still able to deal with very real and serious issues. This show was one of the most impactful shows I have ever watched that has dealt with sexual assault and felt healing in a way.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a dystopian show which deals with themes of religion, abortion, sexual assault and sexual orientation. It follows main character June on her journey as a handmaid which are the only people left able to conceive. These handmaids are raped by the men of this new society and forced to give birth for their infertile wives. It is a genuinely heart wrenching story, but one that gets you angry and opens your eyes to the reality of our own world.
Go get em Tiger
The idea of learning and growth can seem boring and daunting, but it shouldn't have to be. Education shouldn’t have to feel like a chore, especially when starting out on your feminist journey. The goal should be to get informed and feel motivated to do so. That is why media is such a great tool to do so.