10 Things I Hate About You: 10 things we love to hate about this film

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Julia Stiles and Susan May Pratt in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Kat is not a feminist role model

There’s been much debate on Kat Stratford as a feminist and more specifically, which wave of feminism she most represents. It’s generally accepted that Kat starts out embodying the ideas and concepts of second wave feminists, but changes her position towards a more third wave feminist ideology by the end of the film.

Second-wave feminism focused mainly on reproductive rights, the rights of women in the workplace, legal inequalities, and violence against women, generally looking towards the liberation of women as its goal. At the beginning of the film, Kat embodies many of these ideals but in quite a stereotypical way. She is the definition of a man-hating feminist: someone who backs her car (deservedly) into Joey’s car and who will only think about going to a specifically female college in Sarah Lawrence.

Yet by the end of the film, Kat has softened. She, like the third-wave feminist movement, begins to allow men into her life. She doesn’t seem so hard-line anymore. In the same way that third wave feminism turned its focus to healing divisions and looking at everyone living under the patriarchy, Kat seems to relent too.

Seeing Kat as a transition between second and third wave feminism is an interesting idea, but it still seems to argue that second-wave feminists were shrews that needed to be shown a good man to curb their hatred — and that adhering to mainstream ideals (going to prom, dating) are things that young women should be doing.

As much as Kat has some of the best one-liners and is one of the greatest icons of the 1990s, she is a horrible misrepresentation of both of these types of feminism and doesn’t really do justice to the feminist movement overall.