Remember when you had a limited DVD collection and had to watch the same 3 films over and over? My younger sister and I must have watched 10 Things I Hate About You approximately 637 times. She had a crush on Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and I had my heart set on mysterious Patrick (Heath Ledger). For me though, the most inspiring and badass character of the film was, and continues to be, feminist teen Katarina Stratford (Julia Stiles).

Kat Stratford had won me over before the end of the opening credits. She charges into shot driving her 1963 Dodge Dart. Riot Grrrl music blasts from the car stereo, much to the annoyance of the pristine popular girls in the convertible alongside. Throughout the film, Kat proves she is a fearless and confident nonconformist. She rebels against the mainstream, spending her free time listening to punk band Bikini Kill and reading Sylvia Plath.

She is uninterested in fashion, partying and impressing school Lothario Joey Donner. Instead, she is focused on her education, challenging her English teacher and being awarded a place at Sarah Lawrence College. Kat was everything I longed to be as a shy, bookish and awkward teenage girl navigating high school. My introduction to her sparked an interest in playing music, reading and feminism.  

The film is loosely based on the Shakespearian comedy The Taming of The Shrew. As a result, it is worth noting that the storyline of 10 Things I Hate About You does not match the progressive ideals that Kat holds. This is a 1999 romantic comedy aimed at teenagers and as a result, elements of the storyline are outdated and cliché. This film stood out for me from associated teen rom-coms of the 90s with this focus on a strong, intelligent female protagonist.

-Jessica Yarnall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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