The South Bank Review Winter 2017 | Battle of the Sexes Review
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Battle of the Sexes Review

‘ C H A U V I N I S T I C   P I G ’

 

  VS

 

 ‘ H A I R Y – L E G G E D  F E M I N I S T ’

 

Steve Carell and Emma Stone in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

‘IF I AM TO BE A CHAUVINIST PIG, I WANT  TO BE THE NUMBER ONE PIG.  
– BOBBY RIGGS.

 Battle of the Sexes Directors: Johnathon Dayton and Valerie Faris

Released to the UK on the 7th October 2017 at the BFI London Film Festival, Battle of the Sexes came to our screens to reveal the biography of Billie Jean King, the advocate for women’s rights and equal pay in sports. Set in the early 1970s, main character Billie Jean’s life is loosely played out by Emma Stone who soldiers forward with her fight to gaining equality and respect for women.

The film displays men as being ‘more exciting to watch’ simply because it is ‘biology’ as the character Jack Kramer (played by Bill Pullman) states. Directors Johnathon Dayton and Valerie Faris, capture three major factors: the struggles endured by women, the stereotypical traditions they were expected to upkeep and finally, the equality battle they faced regarding men. Bobby Riggs, (played exceedingly well by Steve Carrell) is portrayed as an openly proud chauvinist, that thinks he is better than Billie Jean King simply due to him being male.

Both actors channel into their characters’ roles showing a competition of being the better sex through the use of a tennis court. At the climax of the film, Steve Carrell’s character refers to their tennis match as the ‘chauvinistic pig verses hairy feminist’. To me, this line in particular really speaks to viewers. It highlights the importance of not just the tennis match and sport, but the freedom that women yearned for over decades prior to this moment.

However, not all the male characters are portrayed in this manner throughout; Billie Jean’s husband appears to be one of the minority of males that truly supports his wife, despite becoming aware of her deeper feelings for someone else. This relates to the underlying plot that raises awareness about same sex relationships being taboo. Although the main focus is gender inequality and women’s rights, this forbidden love story helps to drive the film forward to heighten the tension of sisterhood. The secret same sex partnership is quoted in the film as being a ‘sin’ and ‘wrong’. Billie Jean King and her secret lover Marilyn (performed by Andrea Riseborough), reveal the onscreen romance in such a detailed way! It shows the passioand lust that each of their characters’ have for one another yet, both acknowledge and accept that they have to keep it secret in order for Billie Jean King to succeed in what her end goal is. Battle of the Sexes has been formed in a very clever way and is a powerful film.

It is a factor in history that shouldn’t be forgotten. It has changed the way women are viewed in today’s society, especially in tennis and for acceptance when being romantically involved with each other.

Out on general release: 24th November 2017

Lucia Etheridge
Luciaetheridge@hotmail.co.uk

Lucia Etheridge is in the final year of her English with Creative Writing degree. She applies techniques she has learnt and developed over the last three years to create her pieces. Living in Tunbridge Wells, she is open to the slow country lifestyle as well as the busy London life - this helps to influence her creative writing. She is yet to discover what she aspires to be in the future however, one thing that she is sure of is that forming various creative texts seems to come naturally. She thoroughly enjoys this and she knows that she would like to take this forward with her in her future career whatever that may be.