Anti-feminist Ideologies In The Film The Devil Wears Prada

Chick flicks are films that are catered towards the female audience in hopes of leaving them with something to remember. In the film The Devil Wears Prada, there is a focus on how Miranda Priestly and Andrea Sachs’s different beliefs constantly collide. Near the end of the film, Andrea realizes the cost of having a position of power and decided to quit her job in order to have a happy life with her friends and boyfriend. Films like these mask themselves as being women empowering but are in fact slipping in anti-feminist ideologies. This film shows that women are capable of wielding power but at the cost of their happiness and how society perceives them.

When looking at Miranda’s character it is meant to express women empowerment and feminist ideals. In Delemar’s article, he describes feminism as the will to change women’s position in society. In the workplace, it is unusual to see a female boss and Miranda is at the top being the editor-in-chief of the Runway magazine. However, it is how the characters in the film react towards her that make her less of an icon and more of an example of what not to be. Spiker says that it is acceptable for women to use power and that they could be stern while using it. Yet Miranda gets called Dragon Lady and it constantly thrown throughout the film engraving it to the audience that it is, in fact, is not acceptable to be an assertive female boss. Similarly, when a male journalist calls Miranda a notorious sadist, Andrea replies, “okay she’s tough, but if Miranda was a man no one would notice anything about her except how great she is at her job”. At this point, Andrea has moved up in her position and has begun to drift from her friends and boyfriend who scrutinize her for slaving at work. She is interpreting an attack on Miranda as an attack on herself since they are both women who are just doing what it takes to survive in the industry. Wolf states that women do not display power because they want to be perceived as being nice. It is obvious that Miranda could care less about what other people say about her because of how she continues to behave. She is doing what is in her right which is to execute power in order to maintain it.

Andrea, on the other hand, displays patriarchal views. In Johnson’s article, he says that patriarchy is where society encourages male dominance and oppression of women. In the beginning, Andrea is strongly against Miranda because she was “too harsh” on her. Due to the societal view of how women should not be able to have nor use their power. Andrea constantly relies on the only male figure in her workplace when in need of help regardless of all of the other female characters around her. Andrea had a boost in her career until she realized that her friends and boyfriend were drifting away from her because of her being so immersed in her work. In the article “Traditional Gender Roles: Do They Make, and Then Break, Our Relationships?” Icke states that in the traditional role women are meant to value relationships over status and power. Andrea ended up conforming back into society and quit her job of being an assistant to the chief of a famous magazine. She decided to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist in a small company with a male boss. It was not until she took those steps that she was able to gain acceptance of her friends and boyfriend again.

It is difficult for women to maintain relationships when in a position of power because of the expectation that relationships should be valued more for them. Such as when Miranda falls into a pit of despair when she gets another divorced by her new husband. She has not been able to maintain her relationships due to her work. It is brought up again when Andrea’s boyfriend ends their relationship because of her not caring enough for him. It is not just romantic relationships, but also relationships within family. Miranda said that her main worry was that it was not fair to her daughters to go through another divorce. In Ursell’s article, he states, “The problem is not how to be a mother but how to stay a mother when taking on the business role”. Despite her best efforts a love for her daughters, Miranda is an absent mother and only parent. She spoils them in hopes of being able to fill the void of her not being present. Her being a failure of a parent deters other women from taking positions of power. Due to fear of society outing them as an unfit mother or being unable to have children at all if they want a successful career.

Since Miranda Priestly is the head of a famous magazine many people know her. However, this does not mean that they all have positive connotations about her. In reality, many men and women are either afraid of her or believe she is cruel. This is surprising to see from the women since it would make sense for them to support another woman in power, but that is not the case. In Buchanan’s article, he states that when women deviate from their social norm of being communal rather than agentic other women feel betrayed and see highly powerful women as hostile. This comes to play when Andrea is complaining about Miranda’s constant demands and belittlements to her when she does a poor job. Her higher up (Emily) reminds her that as an assistant it is her job and to do things correctly. Andrea felt betrayed by Emily and then proceeded to speak to Nigel who is one of the few males in the workplace. It was not until he said, “Do you want me to say, Poor you. Miranda's picking on you…Wake up, six. She's just doing her job” that she changed her attitude. Despite the fact, both Emily and Nigel got the same fact across Andrea was only enlightened by someone from the opposing gender. Andrea had wanted more of a nurturing leadership which is a trait expected from women but did not realize that as a boss she also has a right to being blunt and critical.

Even though Miranda has the depictions of a successful woman and is an icon of empowerment. The film flips her character upside down by making her the antagonist to both men and women. Showing to the audience that women are not capable of wielding power while having personal success without everything around them going down in flames. The protagonist flees away from the icon because she knows that she will not lead a happy life despite the power. She returned to her powerless position to please her partner and friends. The protagonist was given a happy ending only when she followed the patriarchal views of society. 

10 Jun 2021
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