Saturday, May 17, 2008
The films Osama and Whale Rider are basically feminist stories that serve as bold comments on the harsh patriarchal ideology plaguing not only tribal communities (like the Maoris of New Zealand, where Whale Rider comes from) or dictatorial governments (like the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the origin of Osama), but also the rest of the male-dominated world. The protagonists of both films, Osama and Pai, are empowered to certain degrees in order to prove to their respective macho societies that they can assert their female identity by subverting the conventional wisdom that women are weak and disadvantaged. This, too, is the case in Mulan, an inspiring tale of a young Chinese woman named Mulan who passed herself off as a man in order to join the dynasty’s army.
Osama and Mulan took the risk of being found girls in the all-male institutions they infiltrated, for the love of their respective families. However, more than Osama’s providing food for her grandmother, mother and paternal aunt and Mulan’s sparing her father from the military task due the male of the Chinese family, their disguise was a reminder that women, like men, can undergo rigid training, work difficult tasks and do male-associated chores—all with success. The same ability is proven by Pai, who might not have to mask her feminine form, but had to perform the abovementioned things all the same as a retraction of her chieftain grandfather’s incredulity of her capacity to lead her Whangara people, as her family’s first-born males have inherited such leadership.
Osama, Pai, and Mulan are all girls with feminine spirit, and their courage inspires each woman to rise well above the low patriarchal expectation bearing that spirit.