'80s Movies Were Full of Sexism That Would Never Fly Today
Movies from the '80s hold a special place in all of our hearts, especially the teen genre led by none other than the totally rad John Hughes. But cultural norms were much different two decades ago, and even the most beloved films are laced with sexist jokes and scenarios that just don't fly nowadays.
Seriously, have you watched any of these movies recently? The stuff that flew over our heads back in the day sticks out like a sore thumb now. Take a look at some of the most egregiously sexist and inappropriate moments from '80s movies.
1. The Woman in Red
Gene Wilder basically gets obsessed with Kelly Lebrock's character after seeing her underwear when she was standing over an air vent like Marilyn Monroe. Weird? Gross? We think so.
2. Revenge of the Nerds
What is it with all the '80s nerd movies? Revenge of the Nerds is rife with the sexual exploitation of women for entertainment value. For instance, the rape scene where a character poses as someone else to have sex with that person’s girlfriend is pretty horrible, and let's not forget how the nerds broke into a sorority house, installed a hidden camera and then passed out nude pics of the women they had photographed. Gross... and totally illegal.
3. Sixteen Candles
Another Hughes classic, but isn't it terrible how Jake passes off his extremely drunk girlfriend to Farmer Ted? The cherry on top is that it's implied that they had sex in Jake's dad's Rolls Royce, even though Caroline was blacked out and doesn't remember anything. Rape culture at its finest.
God bless Tom Hanks, but did you ever notice how degrading his character's behavior is toward Daryl Hannah's Madison all throughout the film? He belittles her, treats her like she's stupid and even barges in on her in the bathroom when she just wants to be alone. He treats her like property, not an equal.
5. Pretty in Pink
One word: Blane. Blane was pretty much the worst boyfriend ever and perfectly represented the smarmy machismo that was considered ideal in the '80s.
It's also pretty bad how Andie (Molly Ringwald) is called a bitch by Steff (James Spader), when he hits on her and she rejects him. What feels so strange is that she just takes it and doesn't fire back at him.
6. Return of the Jedi
Every teenage boy has the image of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in the metal bikini burned into their memory, but you'd never see a female star chained up as a sex slave today. It's far too gruesome and sexist.
7. Blade Runner
Deckard (Harrison Ford) comes onto Rachael (Sean Young) as she sits at the piano, trying to kiss her. She rejects him, gets up and walks away. Unbelievably, he follows her, then roughs her up until he forces himself on her. How was this ever OK?
8. The Breakfast Club
"I don’t know if [director] John [Hughes] wrote that or it was a studio thing that they wanted Allison to go from being very plain to being suddenly very glamorous. I didn’t like that," Ally Sheedy told Elle magazine. "I had come up with this thing about her black eye makeup and very pale skin so I thought, ‘Could it be more that she’s taking this mask off?’ John did give me that and they didn’t really put a whole bunch of makeup on me; it was more about revealing who Allison is. I wish it had been a little more of that and a little less of, ‘Let’s make her pretty.’"
9. Weird Science
Sure, Lisa wasn't a real person and was actually a computer program created by two nerds seeking the perfect woman, but the sole purpose of her existence in Hughes' Weird Science is to make the two teenage boys feel better about their own sexuality. Not exactly the bastion of girl power.
Did we miss any sexist scenes from any of your '80s favorites?
A version of this article was originally published in November 2016.