Women & Gender Studies
In the movie “Set it Off” (1996) feminism is brought about in the limelight, first the main characters are women and they engage in acts that the society view as male acts.They were involved in robbery so as to seek financial security,the girls work in the janitorial but still rob banks.The women take part in several bank robberies this shows that their is existence of feminism,they go about alone in their robbery without involving any man.They are symbolic,an example of the modern woman who is skillful and empowered.The main psychological issues addressed in the movie are stereotyping, social status, punishment, psychosocial stressors and prejudice.
The movie has four main characters who are African Americans,Stereotyping is expressed openly.This girls are pushed to the limits of engaging in robbery by different circumstances,but the main reason is to have better lives.It starts off with one girl loosing her job and moving on to a janitorial company where she meets her friends, one of who has lost a brother due to shooting by the police as a mistaken bank robber and form a gang,they rob banks two times before loosing the money to their boss who they eventually shot dead.In their third attempt one girl gets shot and slowly the other two die leaving one with the money,who at the end moves to mexico to start life anew.
In the movie, the factor “group think” is clearly highlighted, the environment is full of violence and crime rates are high,gangs are formed so as to engage in robbery just like the girl gang and other unidentified gangs, they risk their lives for the sake of providing their families with basic needs.The girls potrayed women empowerment in the movie,they acted bravely and skillfully when planning the robbery act, they acted as a group and never betrayed one another.
Social Status is also expresssed,the gang was formed because they wanted better lives for themselves this shows that they wanted to secure a great future to avoid porverty.They were seeking a sense of belonging in the society they did not want to be associated with the poor,humans have a hierachy of needs and it makes sense to fulfill basic needs first, Unger (1996).In our todays era the society has embraced change positively as compared to the past where women were treated as the weaker sex.Women are fighting for their rights against bad wages at the work places and demanding an increase in their salary just like the male counterparts,women are not exploited.In the government they are also seeking parliamentary positions so as to participate in leadership and besides that many are also becoming great entrepreneurs by enhancing women’s control over desicion-making.Women today are highly educated,which is a human right and their increased earning power in turn raises household income.
Reinforcement or punishment was used in the movie, towards the end justice is served to the three gang girls before the last takes off with the money, the three robbers do not escape the arm of the law as they are shot dead as they refuse to surrender peacefully,this simplifies that no one is above the law, gender equality is excersised.Again in the movie one girl is denied the right to take good care of her child just because she took disinfectant mistakenly,the government intervenes through its social workers and takes the child away,this shows that they cared about the child’s welfare and also wanted the child to be safe.Lastly prejudice is expressed when detective Strode lets Stoney get away with the money and not go to jail after committing so many crimes,he assumes that she has been through alot.
Martin, Andrea, and Latifah Queen. Set It Off: From the New Line Cinema Motion Picture. London, UK: WEA Europe, 1996. Film.
Unger, Rhoda and Mary Crawford. Women and Gender: A Feminist Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996. Print.