Feminism in the 19th century?
There’s something so interesting to me about the Regency era. It’s a mixture of the fashion, the characters and definitely the status quo that is so different from what we experience now. In this day and age, a lot of those things are frowned upon, especially because women barely had any say in their lives. And this is exactly why it’s so interesting to me how shows like Bridgerton, which is set in an inherently sexist era, tackle feminism.
The obvious: Rebellious women
The most obvious way that Bridgerton handles feminism is through their “rebellious” female characters. Think Eloise blatantly fighting the system and refusing to smile and be pretty and curtsy just so in order to impress a suitor. Think Kate taking up the role of strategist so that her family could live comfortably.
Bridgerton is not short of rebellious female leads.
The subtle: Wallflowers
Penelope Featherington definitely made strides in character development in season 2, but one thing has certainly remained the same: she is a wallflower. While she still has trouble accepting the fact wholeheartedly—after all, the object of her heart’s desire sees her as everything but worthy of courtship—she proves to us that there is power to be found no matter where you stand in society.
She not only increases the wages of the delivery boys in the latest chapter of Bridgerton, but she stands up to the people around her and takes her power in her hands. Penelope might still want to be whisked away by a gentleman caller, but she certainly isn’t afraid to use what is available to her. And isn’t that what feminism is?
(Let’s debate about what she did to Eloise another time.)
The downright surprising: Mama bears
While the men in Bridgerton are meant to be the breadwinners and decision-makers, a lot of the fathers are certainly absent (read: dead) on the show. So what’s a mother supposed to do? Take the reins and show some feministic tendencies, of course.
We have Violet Bridgerton, who refuses to let her children settle. There is Portia Featherinton who outwits men left and right for the sake of her reputation and the future of her daughters. And, of course, there is Lady Danbury, who is simply the “most terrifying creature in any room”—as she so humbly puts it.
If anything, Bridgerton has shown me this: no matter what world we live in, feminism exists. It might not be on a banner that flies loud and proud, but it is there.
Art Alexandra Lara