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'Promising Young Woman' and Female Empowerment in Film



In recent years, the film industry has witnessed a growing demand for diverse and empowering representations of women on the screen. One film that has garnered significant attention and acclaim for its groundbreaking portrayal of female empowerment is Promising Young Woman. The film challenges societal norms and addresses crucial issues of consent, assault, and gender roles.


Cassie, a former medical student, leads a double life: she goes to a bar and pretends to be drunk, waits for a man to take advantage of her by taking her home, then reveals her sobriety and confronts them, forcing them to face the consequences of their actions. Her motivation is past trauma; her best friend was a victim of severe assault. The film delves into the complexities of trauma, consent, and the lengths one woman will go to demand accountability in a world that often turns a blind eye to sexual assault.

Throughout the film, Cassie takes control of her own narrative and becomes a symbol of empowerment. It is also an unflinching portrayal of the complexities surrounding consent and sexual assault, prompting important discussions. Through several male characters, the film deconstructs the "nice guy" trope by exposing the dangers of performative kindness and the manipulation it can result in.


The ending, however, is where I feel the film really falls short (spoiler alert). Cassie finds her best friend's abuser, and decides to punish him for his actions, but he breaks free and suffocates her with a pillow; he gets rid of her body and everyone assumes she's missing. In the end, they are caught by the police, which is seen as a moment of triumph in the film. However, her death left a bad taste in my mouth as a viewer.


While I do salute the boldness of the film, and I'm sure it was meant to be empowering, I simply fail to see the big victory in the end if Cassie ends up losing her life. Even if it was meant to be a gut punch to the viewers and truly give the audience a woman's perspective, I feel it falls into a morally grey area. The decision to give her a tragic fate might be grounded in reality and meant to elicit strong emotions, but it raises some questions about the film's overall message and its stance on empowerment. Nevertheless, the impact and significance of Promising Young Woman's exploration of consent and empowerment should not be dismissed, as it serves as a catalyst for continued discussions on these crucial issues within our society.

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Loved reading this! The beginning of the article made me so happy that we’re finally getting content that really matters but the second half disappointed me :( I understand that its important to show a realistic point of view, and we all know that unfortunately death is the fate of any woman that decides to speak up, but I really think media products that are targeting such sensitive issues have a really huge responsibility to make sure that they help build the right narrative. Unfortunately, the movie fell short. Hoping that we can see more realistic but empowering content in the future.

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Mubashir Mémon
Mubashir Mémon
Jun 23, 2023

A very engaging read! Do you think the film's ending serves as a poignant commentary on the systemic failures in addressing sexual assault and the importance of not remaining silent?. It highlights the strength and resilience of survivors, emphasizing the need for collective action and accountability through a more blunt series of events - unlike most movies do. I believe that Cassie's sacrifice, though tragic, ultimately exposes the truth and offers a glimmer of hope for a society that takes assault seriously.

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Thanks! Yes, I do believe Cassie's sacrifice exposes the truth and sheds light on the brutal and harsh realities women do encounter, but I personally don't think it offers too much hope. I think by having Cassie meet such a painful end, the film may inadvertently reinforce the notion that speaking out and seeking justice for sexual assault can result in personal harm or even death. Also, the film's focus on her individual pursuit of justice through her vigilantism is fun to watch, but it doesn't effectively address the larger systemic issues at play and does little to challenge the institutions and attitudes that perpetuate sexual assault. Of course, that might also be the point of the ending; that her…

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Rania Bakhtiari
Rania Bakhtiari
Jun 22, 2023

Your blog brings up a very valid perspective on the ending of "Promising Young Woman," and the impact that it may have on the viewer's since it takes a tragic turn, with Cassie eventually losing her life in search of justice, which can be seen as a win for the abuser. The ending seemed to be emphasizing the harsh realities and possible dangers and threats that a woman may face when seeking justice for the sexual assault that they may have gone through.


Do you think that the ending may also have been meant to interpreted as addressing the systematic failures and lack of justice woman face in such crimes? Showing Cassie's death may also have been shown to highlight…


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I do believe the intention of the ending was to send that message, yes. It can also be seen as a poignant statement on the toll that societal expectations and norms can take on individuals like Cassie who challenge them, as well as the significant personal risks and sacrifices that women may endure in their fight for accountability and change. However, I do wish it could've sent that message in a different way.

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Very Well Written! "Promising Young Woman" serves as a catalyst for important conversations and reflections on consent, trauma, and female empowerment. It reminds us of the ongoing struggle for justice and the need to challenge societal norms that perpetuate harm. While the film's ending may be unsettling, it prompts us to question our own role in fostering a more equitable and empathetic society.

I agree that "Promising Young Woman" is a powerful and thought-provoking film that showcases the complexities surrounding trauma, consent, and the pursuit of justice. Cassie's character, played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan, exemplifies resilience and determination as she takes control of her own narrative and demands accountability from those who have perpetuated harm.

From a philosophical standpoint, these…

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Thank you! From a philosophical standpoint, the film serves as a call to action. It's a film that compels us to critically examine and challenge the existing norms and systems that perpetuate inequality and harm. As you mentioned, the portrayal of Cassie taking control of her own narrative is really powerful. I think it not only sheds light on the complexities surrounding trauma but also emphasizes the power of agency and the importance of empowering survivors.

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