By Elaine Sine
I had seen advertisements for Hidden Figures, and I initially assumed the movie was solely about the subliminal influence women have over powerful contributions or even men. This idea is what piqued my interest in the film. Since I am a woman and have also experienced discrimination because of my gender, I was excited to see how the idea of feminism would manifest in the movie and become empowered in its portrayal.
However, the movie was much more than what I had anticipated. Yes, it did talk about who women are and the idea of being equal in our abilities, but there was more to it. Its comments on intersectionality and minorities were integral and necessary not only to the movie industry but also to general societal expectations.
Intersectionality is an anthropological theory coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and civil rights advocate. According to Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age, intersectionality is defined as “an analytic framework for assessing how factors such as race, gender, and class interact to shape individual life chances and societal patterns of stratification.”
Hidden Figures addresses this from the perspective of black females and the hardships they face. The three main characters, Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) demonstrate the very real phenomenon that goes unobserved and unmentioned most of the time in today’s world. Since the film is based on the real lives of these three brilliant women, it only emphasizes how this idea needs more attention.
Ideas draw you in, but lives and portrayals propagate empathy, and Hidden Figures was able to encapsulate a very important message that you will continue to understand after watching the film.