Senior Features Writer
“I want Amy Poehler to be my mom.” That was the first text I sent to my friends after watching the Netflix film “Moxie.” Directed by and starring Poehler, it is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl anonymously starting a feminist zine at her high school, which leads to the creation of a feminist group named “Moxie.” The girl is inspired by her mom’s (played by Poehler) involvement in the riot grrrl movement of the 60s. Unlike Poehler’s “cool mom” role in “Mean Girls,” Poehler portrays a feminist mom who is actually cool. Poehler shines in this movie as a director and actress by beginning conversations on intersectional feminism, but she falls short in addressing these issues fully.
“Moxie” begins with the protagonist, Vivian, being inspired by a new student, Lucy, and her own mother’s punk-rock, feminist past. Looking through zines her mom made, Vivian decides to anonymously publish a zine, entitled “Moxie,” calling out the misogynistic behavior of her male classmates and the school’s administration. This leads to female students starting a club called “Moxie” to fight against sexism in their school. This group includes athletes Kiera and Amaya, who want to be recognized as much as their male counterparts in sports; CJ, a trans woman who wants to audition for a female role; Kaitlynn, who was sent home because she wore a tank top and Claudia, Vivian’s Chinese-American friend.
This movie begins conversations about feminism, especially its need for diversity and intersectionality, but it does not fully flesh out these ideas. Instead, it is an introduction to intersectional feminism. Vivian and her mom are white women who seem to come from the middle class. While the other characters in “Moxie” are either BIPOC or part of the LGBTQ+ communities, their storylines are used to support the overall story instead of standing alone.
For instance, when Kiera loses a sports scholarship competition to Mitchell, a white male football player, the plot focuses on Vivian’s anger and subsequent rebellion instead of Kiera and other female athletes. In another scene, Claudia is suspended for her participation in the group. When Vivan apologizes, Claudia reminds Vivian of her white privilege, saying, “I don’t have the freedom to take the risks that you do” because her mom sacrificed so much for her. Vivian replies saying that she’s sorry, and then Claudia tells her she has to go. This conversation could have led to a larger discussion on intersectional feminism, but instead it is rushed and does not give the viewer time to process it.
This movie also barely features people with disabilities, who are often left out of feminist discussions. Meg is the only character who we see that is in a wheelchair, but she barely has any lines and is portrayed as a less important member of the group. She also does not have a storyline in the film.
These supporting characters should have been given larger roles because feminism is and should continue to be about all women, not just white, straight, cisgender women. This International Women’s Month, we should commit to uplifting and supporting every woman around us.