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Hitting your father: coming of age April 12, 2007

Posted by Wasik in bodies, Female Power, Girlfight, Power.
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I think that both the beginning scene and, later, the scene when Michelle Rodriguez hits her father, show that the importance of her power does not lie in its femaleness or maleness. In the beginning shot, the camera is focused on her torso. It is an ambiguously gendered torso because the clothes are loose enough to make her body look androgynous. Next, the camera pans up to show her head as it hangs down; while there is more of a hint of her femaleness, the cornrows in her hair could still confuse an unperceptive viewer. Only when the camera zooms in on Michelle’s face does it become clear that she is a woman– and in this already confusing moment, she looks up and fixes the viewer with an intensely and directly challenging gaze. To me, the gaze seems to say “what? you’re suprised I’m a girl? what’s it to you, anyway?”
The scene in which Michelle beats up her father also shows how she refuses to be constrained by gender roles within her own family. In traditional coming of age narratives (which Proff Parham mentioned in Postcolonial Lit, so these thoughts aren’t all my own), a girl takes on the role of a mother when she leaves home and begins to take care of her husband in a domestic setting. On the other hand, boys tend to come of age by directly challenging their father’s physical power: a boy becomes a man at the moment when he beats him in a fight. In “Girlfight”, Michelle Rodriguez flows between both narratives, both taking care of her brother as a young woman would, and beating her father into submission as a son entering the male world would.

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