Women on Film: Katniss Everdeen as Feminist Role Model

Here at EcoSalon, there’s no Team Edward or Jacob. There is only Team Katniss.

Picture this: the end of modern civilization is upon us. The Mayans have gotten it right and the shifting Earth’s axis has thrown us all into space. Or Yellowstone’s super volcano has erupted, coating us with ash and inspiring cannibalism. Or, Rick Santorum has been elected President. Who do you want at your side – the wily, survival skills of Katniss Everdeen, huntress, tribute, and all-around hero? Or an emo teenager pining for her hybrid werewolf-vampire boyfriend while all the good action happens around her?

Here at EcoSalon, there’s no Team Edward or Jacob. There is only Team Katniss.

Now, gather around young ones, this feminist writer has something to confess. I’m turning 40 years old in mere days. I think this finally means that when I talk about the “good old days,” they actually are the good old days. When I was a young feminist, things like birth control and health care access for all women were not up for debate – they were something established and hard won, rights that we took for granted.

Sure, we revered the stalwarts like Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf, and we were grateful for their feminist revolution. But we thought we had earned our independence, our rights to an equally fulfilling life in or out of the home. We were the third wave feminists, enjoying the spoils of the sexual revolution.

So color us shocked some two decades later. Young women who use birth control are now called sluts. Abortion bills excluding rape and incest are being debated all over the country. Women’s rights are not only under constant assault at all times – they seem destined to be erased completely.

So when we see a young character like Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games up on the screen, it’s impossible not to be deeply inspired and, frankly, relieved to see this next generation of strong women.

Jennifer Lawrence, who at 21 is the quintessential Millennial, brings a wonderful level of quiet dignity to Katniss. Lawrence says she was drawn to Katniss because of her strength as one of the first women to challenge the oligarchical Capitol. As she spoke of the role, “Katniss is so special to me because she’s so strong and willful, and stands up for what’s right.”

And this is exactly what makes Katniss a character you’re proud to show your daughter, niece, or young friend. She’s a cornerstone of strength in a society trying to place individual rights behind the “good” of government decrees.

We hold up three fingers in salute to Katniss and most especially, to Lawrence.

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.