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Feminist Representation in Nikita TV series

Feminist Representation in Nikita TV series


Over the last few years, feminist movement entailing a belief in the socio-economic and political equality of sexes has entered the international scene (Crow 137). Feminist supporters hold that a woman has a right to be socially, economically, and politically influential regardless of what society have been meant to believe and practice. The movement championed for a number of issues such as ban on alcohol, right to vote, and sexual revolution which paved the way for gay acceptance. Despite these efforts, the research still shows gender imbalance in the job market. Currently, there are certain technologies that can be used to reach a wider audience such as TV series or films. The producers who hold feminist beliefs have integrated the ideologies in the contents of their programs and movies (Johnson 14). A good example of this trend is Nikita, an action packed TV series portraying exploits done by female characters that contravene the practices uphold by anti-feminist societies. Nikita is devoted to the life of a professional assassin. The series features Nikita Mears, a female character, who manages to escape from secret organization funded by the U.S. government, referred to as Division. After being in hiding for 3 years, she surfaces in order to bring the organization down. Division, under the leadership of one of its founding members, Percival Rose, is responsible for numerous black operations including sabotage, espionage, and assassinations. She also trains a young woman known as Alex, who she rescued during a mission to kill her parents. Alex becomes Nikita’s recruit and works as a mole inside Division, feeding her intelligence. The whole series depicts exploits performed by these two women against antagonist called Amanda (Jones). These characters embody several qualities adopted by feminists thus directly portraying the intents of the creator. Therefore, feminists have incorporated their views in the sphere of entertainment in order to reach as many people as possible. This paper discusses how the creators of Nikita employed feminism theories as a tool in the storyline to demonstrate importance of women, reveal that women have always been used as subordinates to men in the past, counter sexism, and demonstrate the strength of women in comparison to men.

Women’s Ability to Overcome Painful Past

In the show, main female characters are shown to have had painful pasts. Historically, women have been facing a lot of social and economic issues as compared to men (Crow 139). For instance, men do not have to worry about carrying a baby for nine months, abortion, gender discrimination, sexual violence, and abuse. Women have often been treated in regard to their past problems inflicted on them by the society (Heather 14). However, Nikita and Alex prove the viewers that women ought not to be defined by their painful past. The duo use their past as a catalyst to work hard and outdo mediocrity. This is illustrated in season 1 when the life stories of the two characters are introduced. Nikita faced death penalty for murdering a police officer; she was also a drug addict when Division found her and trained her into becoming an assassin. On the other hand, Alex had lost both her parents and got herself into drug addiction. Nikita and Alex manage to overcome drug addiction and painful pasts to become one of the best agents Division ever had ahead of their male counterparts. The duo succeeds despite fierce rebellion and negativity when brought in Division and reluctance to change. Season 4 reveals Amanda’s painful past and shows how she broke free. Her father used her as a lab rat to conduct painful experiments; when she found the right moment, she escaped. This echoes feminists belief that women should not be judged by their past life and predicaments. When they are empowered, they can be successful in their life just the way Division gave Nikita and Alex a fresh start and a new sense of purpose.

Historical Oppression

Nikita reveals historical injustices committed against women that prompted rise of feminism movement with the aim of bringing change. The main injustice depicted in the show is sex trafficking. Women are the main victims of this vice which is mainly orchestrated by men. An illustration is provided in season 2, episode 9, when Alex disguises herself as a Russian stripper to secure entry to Russia. Evidence of men treating the girls as objects of physical pleasures and entertainment can be clearly seen. They serve as sex slaves in the bars and are forced to dress in a way that would please the men lining to have sex with them. It is considered a form of oppression because they are owned by certain individuals and held against their will. In case of any attempts to escape, the consequences can be as fierce as death. The girls are portrayed as unhealthy, stressed, devastated, addicted to drugs, and oppressed. Alex and other girls get arrested by Immigration and Naturalization Service and, consequently, they get deported to Saint Petersburg. While under the custody of the authorities, Alex leans that the leading agent in INS has sold them to another trafficker as prostitutes. In response, Alex kills all the traffickers and uses funds she gets from Percy to finance the girls to start a new life. Such a devious act by INS agent shows how corruption in law enforcement bodies have provided a breeding ground for sex trafficking. The creator of the show tries to make a point to his audience by indicating that even in America and Russia, countries considered to have enough resources to fight sex trafficking, the vice continues to thrive up to date because of corruption and inadequate efforts. Another character used to portray a form of oppression – objectification of women – is Amanda. As has been already mentioned, Amanda’s father conducted painful experiments on her body. Amanda’s past exemplifies severity of cruelty and disgrace that women have to go through even in the hands of their family members who are supposed to protect them. Feminism movement aims at ending all the injustices committed against women by educating people to stop viewing the feminine gender as sex objects to serve physical pleasures. The TV show exemplifies the steps taken by feminists (Crow 140).

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Political Equality (Leadership)

Nikita portrays successes of women in leadership. Feminist sociological theory insists on giving women a voice in the world (Crow 141). One of the key agendas in feminism movements is to champion for equality in political arenas (Lord, Greiter, and Tursunovic 18). For a long time, male chauvinism has thwarted possibilities of women holding any major office. The TV show cancels out such an idea by illustrating the lives of certain women in leadership positions. In season 1, Amanda plays second in command to Percy. This changes overtime, especially in season 2, as she manages to overtake Percy, locks him up to pay for his actions and take charge of Division. Amanda is shown to be a strategist and a tough leader. She manages to break down relationship between Alex and Nikita, making them go separate ways at the end of season 1. Amanda also managed to convince Alex to help Division track Nikita and black box contrary to what viewers could expect Division to achieve under Percy. She gives Alex an opportunity to reclaim Zetrov and bring to light her true identity to the world for the purpose of weakening Semak and rescuing Katya. She is portrayed to be convincing and creative. She founds allies and poses a greater threat to Nikita’s revolution than Percy does. Nikita is also seen as a great leader as she makes tough decision for her team composed of Alex, Michael, Owen, and Seymour Birkhoff to thwart evil course driven through Amanda’s leadership which eventually becomes successful in season 4. The main intention of the producer in introducing these scenes is to prove that women are equally good and prosperous in leadership with men.

The producers of Nikita further illustrate women’s leadership abilities by showing them heading positions in international bodies as well as the highest office in the U.S. (the President of the United States). In season 4 episode 21, the show introduces a powerful woman, Mirian Hasan, who is a human right activist (Jones). She champions against child kidnapping. After meeting Alex, she offers her a position at the United Nations to be a special envoy on human tracking. Human trafficking is a key issue in the world and when women are depicted to lead movements to curb the vice, the sound of feminism chords can be heard (Heather 20). At the end of season 3, viewers can note that the U.S. President is a female called Kathleen Spencer. So far, few women have occupied political offices across the world. Thus, the fact that in the show the world’s most powerful person is a woman sends feminists signals. This is meant to inform viewers that a woman can equally make a good President (McKelle).

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Strength of a Woman

Main female characters in Nikita are portrayed as physically strong, courageous, diligent, and transformative. Feminists spread the idea that women are equally strong to do things that only men were allowed to do in the past, for example, serving in military, occupying higher positions of leadership, fighting and performing tasks that require intense physical energy (Lord, Greiter, and Tursunovic 18). Nikita comes out as the strongest woman in the show. She becomes the first person to break free from Division without fear of being killed as many other agents were “cancelled” by Percy. She does not just escape but decides to play a big part in bringing solution rather than stay in hiding. With Alex’s help inside Division, Nikita makes successful attempts to dismantle Division’s operations and eventually defeats his antagonists such as Percy, Amanda, and Guardians protecting black boxes. Contrary to anti-feminists beliefs, this TV series portray Nikita and Alex as physically and mentally strong women with the ability to challenge men in fights including trained military personnel. It is pivotal to note that there were many men in the Division but none was courageous enough to arise and oppose the regime except for Nikita. With this kind of storyline, the creator of the show tells the world that women have the will to do what has never been done in the world rather than just being what many have often believed them to be: submissive and unable to question authority of a man (Heather 14). Nikita chooses to turn what men view as an object to a useful tool. For instance, she uses her sexy body by dressing scantily to distract a man on the beach before killing him. This act proves the point that women overpower men with their sexuality (Heather 15). In season 4, where the show comes to an end, all viewers can agree that Nikita’s course has been fruitful at the end of the day as she manages to live a free life without having to worry about her security, get married, and enjoy the peace of mind. The same happens with Alex. Despite being young and orphaned, she manages to take over her father’s company and help Nikita take down division and defeat Amanda.

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This essay maps feminism theories in the Nikita TV series. Nikita not only provides an entertaining mix of drama, spy fiction, and captivating action sequences, but conveys the message of feminism to the viewers. The creators of the show reveal importance of women in leadership, family, and other social affairs. These theories focus on the lives of three major female characters: Nikita, Alex, and Amanda. The first duo acts as protagonists while Amanda features as antagonist. Any subject regarding feminism is critical in the world today where a call for gender equality can hardly be ignored anymore. The movement has effected massive changes in the Western society such as equitable pay with men, women’s suffrage, individual rights to decide over pregnancy and own property. Media is one of the ways of spreading feminist’s views. This is perfectly shown in the TV series such as Nikita.

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