Thursday, December 8, 2011

Women We Never Got to Talk About: Jessminder

The tomboy, the rebel, the star, Jessminder of Bend it like Beckham is many a young girls hero. For those unfamiliar with the movie, Jessminder is 18 years old and the daughter of Punjabi Sikhs. She lives in England and loves soccer. She has posters of famous soccer players hanging above her bed and, somewhat secretly, plays soccer with a group of guys some weekends. One day, Jess is playing in the park when another girl walking by sees her playing and notices how good she is. The other girl (Keira Knightley), Mel, talks to Jess afterwards and tells her that she’s on a women’s team and that Jess should join. Jess goes to check it out, but knows that her parents wouldn’t approve. Her parents are more concerned with Jess finding a husband, and don’t want her playing soccer. Jess joins the team regardless and lies about her parents being ok with it. She quickly develops a crush on their coach, Joe (who is very white and very Irish).

I’ll try not to spoil the movie too terribly, but Jess defies the old fashioned beliefs that her family holds. She fights the stereotype that soccer is just for men and that the only thing women should be worried about is marriage. Jess blazes her own path and even dares to fall for a boy that isn’t a Sikh. Her sister and her sister’s friends, on the other hand, are boy obsessed. They love shopping for clothes and are first and foremost concerned with finding husbands.

Although we come out of the movie with a good message about women, the middle gets a little sketchy. Mel also has a crush on Joe. So, when Mel sees Jess and Joe kiss, she throws a bit of a fit. Mel refuses to talk to Jess. Their close friendship is almost ruined by a boy. Not the finest moment, but it is a coming of age story after all.

So, why is Jess a hero? Because we all wish that we could stand up to our parents like she did. We all have or have had dreams of becoming a famous soccer player or musician or what have you. Jess follows those dreams and actually gets to have them. In a time where men’s sports dominated she is part of an early women’s league. She isn’t a “superhero” exactly. No super powers, no world to save. But she is a normal person hero. A “super person” if you will. So she makes my list.

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