By Erin Harris
The film, Working Girl, is about a woman named Tess who is struggling in the corporate world and in life. She is frustrated with working hard and not getting anywhere, and with life in general. When she begins work at a new company under a female boss, Katherine, she assumes her life will change as the new boss seems understanding and a team player. Another company, Trask Industries, that is affiliated with the one Tess is working at is trying to fight off a take over from Japanese competitors, and is looking for television networks to buy so they can avoid this take over. Tess brings an idea to Katherine about instead buying into radio, and has the research to support it. But Katherine doesn’t seem to think the higher ups will go for it. She suggests Tess leave her notes and she will go through them and see if there is anything there. Katherine goes off on a skiing trip and breaks her leg and then asks Tess to fill in for her at work and to watch her house and do all sorts of errands for her. During these errands, Tess finds an email that Katherine is sending the higher ups at Trask presenting the idea as her own and is devastated.
Then she decides not to allow Katherine to treat her just like every other boss before her and she does some risky things. Tess presents herself as Katherine’s associate and attends meetings, conferences, and even meets with the company owner himself peddling her idea. The company decides it is a great idea and begins the process to implement it. During all of these meetings, Katherine returns to the office and back to work, never knowing that Tess went above her head with this idea. She does find out towards the end of the movie, and tries to persuade the owner of the company that Tess stole the idea, and does just that until one of the corporate officers, Jack Trainor, sticks up for her and tells everyone the real truth. In the end, Katherine gets fired, Tess gets promoted in the company, and Jack and Tess fall in love and live happily ever after.
In this film, women and girls are for the most part portrayed as secondary citizens because the only woman in power in this entire movie is the boss, Katherine. Every other woman in the movie is portrayed as a secretary, or a lower class employee than their male counterparts. Despite this portrayal though, I feel that this movie is empowering to women because of the success Tess has, even though she has to break the rules to do it. The message that I got out of the movie is that you can get what you want, sometimes you just have to take alternate routes to achieve the success you deserve. Another message I believe the movie is trying to convey is to go after what you want and not just sit back and wait for success to come to you. I consider this film a feminist film because it is a film that basically shows that even though the woman is a lower class than the man and has all these struggles to overcome, she still triumphs in the end and becomes empowered. There are parts of it that are not feminist, but I think the overall message is that of a feminist origin.
I chose this film because it is one of my favorite films to watch. I relate to it very well working as a legal assistant right now because I am in the same position Tess was in before she got the success she deserved. I use the film as inspiration that I need to be patient and just wait for the right moment and I will get what I deserve. The experiences that I have had just make me work harder in school so that I can be in that power position when I am done.
A few places where readers can learn more about this film are as follows:
By Erin Harris