foxy_brownBadass Femmes is a bi-weekly column written by So from So’s Reel Thoughts about all the Badass Females in pop culture that shaped her life.

It wasn’t until my Women & Film class that this important question finally came to me: Why were there rarely any films featuring women of color battling identity, womanhood and race within the American landscape? It was then that I decided to settle these thoughts by watching Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Without prior knowledge of Pam Grier or Blaxploitation, I then realized that I had to rewind further to her most iconic roles, Coffy and Foxy Brown, to wholly appreciate Tarantino’s homage. Foxy Brown resonated with me more than Coffy did due to it’s memorable lines, racy outfits, and racially-aware plot – one that’s still culturally and historically relevant today. As a college student, I was coming to terms and trying to figure out my womanhood when Foxy’s unabashed sexuality and empowerment gave me the confidence to embrace myself in all my glory!

Even after multiple viewings, Foxy Brown never ceases to amaze me with its timely racial tension and female inequality. After the murder of her boyfriend, Brown takes the incredible task of seeking vengeance from the large drug/prostitution organization responsible, going undercover to kill every muthafucka she can get her hands on! NO BIG – and she made it look so easy. Posing as a prostitute, she simply strides into the head Madame’s den professing that she’s able to please any man. It’s at this point that you instantly knew she was not one to be messed with! That uncanny swagger was a big gamble in an arena of predominantly white, dangerous thugs eager to execute her in the blink of an eye. That’s Foxy though, a fearless woman fueled by her avenging anger, making me question my own resolve and fearlessness under impossible situations. She became an unlikely heroine at a time when I was bombarded by generic characters, all unaware of their racial roles in American society.

Every woman should aspire to be like Foxy with her unwavering attitude, commitment to friendship and immovable resilience through troubles. She goes out of her way to help another enslaved black woman within the exploitive prostitute ring, only dragging her further into the deep underground of sex and violence. There’s a particularly brutal scene at the end when Brown is captured by and sent to a farm drugged and raped. My heart completely broke at this point but was astonished to witness Foxy’s strength to outwit her captors despite their dehumanizing acts. Her unflinching courage in times of peril seemed like a milestone moment for woman on screen especially in the 1970’s. Her final vengeful act of severing a man’s penis is what sends the entire thing over the edge.

It’s no wonder how Foxy became the sexy iconic figure that would speak through the ages with her actions and look good while doing it. She’s smart and aware of her sexuality, knowing how to use it to her advantage. As her brother Link says, “She is a whole lotta woman.” Whether it’s her matching sea blue head scarf and shirt combo or sleek cleavage exposing red dress, Brown didn’t let her clothes define her but let the clothes complement her character.

Overall, there’s an interesting push and pull between feminist and non-feminist values in Foxy Brown. On one hand, we see a powerful woman of color taking charge and kicking some serious ass and the other a woman fighting other women most likely for men’s entertainment. Nonetheless, it’s a film that showcases a rare representation of women even compared to today’s standards. You’d be hard pressed to find a modern film presenting a black female heroine, gang boss or even a lesbian bar in one single blow! Both character and film transcend the boundaries of politically correct storytelling and still resonate today with their issues of race, gender and inequality. Foxy Brown is more than a film but a revolutionary, one that teaches young girls like me about the importance of pursuing big risks, realizing one’s sexuality, and ultimately, embracing my own identity as a women of color in the backdrop of white America.

SYU

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