Katharine Hepburn has been called a feminist film persona and a 20th century feminist icon, but few have really delved into the sources and manifestations of the term “feminist” as it relates to this great star. Is she called a feminist because she insisted on wearing pants in a time when most women were expected to wear skirts and high heels? We all know the story about the time the studio, in an effort to force her into dresses and skirts, stole the trousers from her trailer and Hepburn paraded around the studio in her underwear until her slacks were returned. Her feminism was also manifested in her choice of a career over marriage. Although these aspects of her life choices contribute to our image of the feminist, it is within her films themselves that the strength of her feminism is most prevalent.
|M. Carey Thomas of Bryn Mawr|
|Hepburn as Jo from|
LITTLE WOMEN (1933)
|Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in|
ADAM'S RIB (1949)
The films listed here make up more than 25% of the movies Katharine Hepburn made in her 60-year career. Even in those films that didn't qualify for these categories, Hepburn carries the standard of female autonomy high. LITTLE WOMEN is the only film that overlapped in these three divisions, which goes to show how significant the Jo March character is to the feminist ideal. M. Carey Thomas herself used to sign her diary as Jo when she was a girl. George Cukor, who directed Hepburn in that film and many others, often remarked that LITTLE WOMEN was Hepburn's seminal film because she actually was Jo, in more ways than one!
|As Eleanor of Aquitaine in THE LION IN WINTER (1968)|
(with Peter O'Toole)
I hope you enjoy watching these films! I always love to hear what you think about Katharine Hepburn as a feminist persona. Do you agree with my list? What changes would you make? What films would you add or take away? Thanks for reading and happy viewing!