Bridgerton: Through the eyes of Feminism
Netflix recent release Bridgerton, garnered fame for itself not just by creating a frenzy among fashion lovers but thorough its feminist perspective and lens on the Regency England. It is based on the bestselling novel series by Julia Quinn. The first season being based upon the first book of the series, “The Duke and I”. Based in the Regency England, which is known for being a patriarchy. London Ton is ruled by two women. Queen Charlotte, The Monarchy and a writer under the alias, Lady Whistledown (read Regency Era Gossip Girl) who is also the narrator of the series. The eight-episode series follows Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the Bridgerton family. Daphne goes on the to make her debut in the society, meaning that she has started her search for a respectable husband. Women on the show are aware that they have very options in life and are not allowed to pursue their wishes or have a career.
Daphne, wishes to have a husband and children but is unaware on how babies are conceived. Women in the show are never given proper Sex Education. Daphne receives a baseless and metaphoric explanation of sex from her mother on her wedding night. Daphne learns about sex from her maid after her marriage with the Duke, she later calls out her mother for not giving her knowledge on the needs of a marriage. Even when her sister Eloise asks their mother “how did she become with child if she’s not married?” her mother, changes the topic of discussion and does not let her get any information from her brothers as well.
The Duke and Daphne develop a friendship while they pretend to be a couple, the Duke casually asks her if she ‘touches herself”. He later talks to her about Masturbation. Daphne then indulges in the act of masturbation. Emphasizing on female pleasure. Programs based in the Regency era refrain from showing female pleasure and even when they do, it is with a partner and often depicts women being left unsatisfied. It is then, when Bridgeton sets to become a game changer. Bridgerton also covers activities that were considered scandalous. Marina Thompson was an unwed expecting mother, her pregnancy was kept a secret in the first half of the show but later when Lady Whistledown reveals to the London Ton that Marina was an expecting mother, she becomes the talk of the town but is never shamed for indulging in pre-marital sex and her pregnancy. Bridgerton shows women in power and though the society expects women to behave in a certain way, they stand up and speak up for their themselves. Daphne’s brother Anthony fixes her marriage with Lord Berbrooke against her wishes, she does not comply to him and decides to take a stand for herself which is something rarely depicted in documentaries, movies or series about the regency period. The series also focuses on how not every woman aspires to be a wife and a mother through Eloise Bridgerton’s character, who wishes to study and pursue a career and is uninterested in becoming a debutante. Eloise desires to set on a completely divergent path from her sister Daphne. She is in fact supported by her brother.
“Having a nice face and pleasant hair is not an accomplishment. Do you know what is an accomplishment? Attending university! If I were a man, I could do that, you know.”
- Eloise Bridgerton
Bridgerton shows women indulging in premarital sex but ends up contradicting its own idea. The Duke and Daphne are caught in an intimate moment by the latter’s brother, who challenges him into a duel for violation his sister’s modesty. It is the realization that they were seen by another member of the society is when they both get married. The second half of the series features quite a number of steamy scenes, which show not just the man but the women too feeling “wonderful”. The series gives importance to female pleasure whether its with or without a partner.
Bridgerton is currently enjoying a position in the “Top 10 in India” list on Netflix. Though the plot seems to contradict itself in certain points and has some loops in its plot, it seems like a right step in the direction of creating content in displaying women on screen and giving significance to female pleasure.
- Aadya Punj