Legally Blonde : The Portrayal of Women as Lawyers

Research Project Proposal PDF

Gender, sexuality and class pertaining to women is considered to be a very controversial topic when portrayed within the work-sphere, especially in the career of law. In the film Legally Blonde, the main character Elle Woods is represented as a very feminine and stylish woman who is caught up in a world full of beauty, fashion and fitness. However, due to a breakup with her boyfriend who would be attending Harvard Law School, she decides to break those stereotypical barriers as a ‘dumb blonde’ and decides to pursue a career in law. The representation of gender, sexuality and class is represented in a positive but also negative connotation within the film. Not only is this relevant in the film, but in real life women experience the inequalities faced within such a career due to many classifications. It will be mentioned that the portrayal of the protagonist Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) invokes an inspiring although sometimes a contentious message to viewers. However, it will be further discussed as to how as a character, she experiences many injustices as a woman similar to those who have struggled with constant discrimination in a more male-dominating career. 

While some may argue that the 2001 film Legally Blonde depicts a strong female lead who overcomes specific barriers, Gordon Alley-Young argues in his article Celebrate Diversity, Even If That Includes the Hopelessly Superficial: Lessons on Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality in “Legally Blonde” , the misrepresentation featured within the film pertaining to gender, race, class and sexuality. For example, he states that the representation of femininity and her stylish approach to educational success distracts viewers from the film’s problematic politics.” Therefore, he disputes the way Elle Woods is portrayed as a caucasian woman and the privilege she possesses is ambiguous to her, as his main argument is the advantage Elle has but does not take notice to such as she is “unreflective of her whiteness and privilege.” Young addresses the contradictory unrealistic messages Elle Woods portrays compared to real life situations. For example, he states that it is questionable as to what the film teaches us about learning, sociocultural diversity and marketing of educational images of women.” However, it is arguable that although her race and class benefit her in the long run, woman who are lawyers also benefit from such designation.

Elle in Legally Blonde attends Harvard Law School, she inspires others to think outside the box and not be afraid to be themselves, as she “entrenched male partners to open their minds”, that being her ex-boyfriend Warner and her derogatory Professor Callahan. With the guidance of being told by Emmett “being a blonde is actually a pretty powerful thing. You hold more cards than you think you do. And I, for one, would like to see you take that power and channel it toward the greater good, you know?”, Elle ends up graduating top of her class as valedictorian. Without a doubt, women have succeeded tremendously as lawyers and with the help of the historic Clara Brett Martin, she has shaped the way for women in that career. As Elle Woods mentions, “it is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.” This may be significant to some, however, many women have been discriminated against and still continue to be on a daily basis within the workplace, wholly based on their gender. There are ever-lasting challenges to achieve positive change in the legal profession and it is clearly time to mobilize female lawyers in achieving innovation. Moreover, the issues of discrimination against women are far more bigger than the actual success of an individual; thus it is indisputable that it is time for lawful careers to be more gender-neutral rather than having men commanded industries.


Full Analysis: Critical Media Analysis HIST 2480 PDF