The movie Moxie, a 2021 new Netflix movie, is based on a YA novel by Jennifer Mathieu, about Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a young white teen, who’s fed up with all the “boys will be boys” sexist and misogynist expressions. She decides to publish an anonymous zine at her high school criticizing the sexist behavior she is witnessing after being inspired by her mom (Amy Poehler), a former Riot Girlll and fan of Bikini Kill.
Unfortunately, Vivian’s revelations come at the expense of her classmates and friends who are people of color. In the process of Vivian’s feminist awakening, Lucy (Alycia Pascual), who is Afro-Latina, is both marginalized and ignored by teachers, peers, the principal, and for the most part, by Vivian.
A scene that captures this is when Vivian decides to put her head down when Lucy is interrupted by a white male classmate (Mitchell) after questioning the diversity of the syllabus. Vivian also witnessed the same male peer spitting in Lucy’s drink after she denies his sexual advances, and ignored it.
“If you keep your head down, he’ll move on and bother somebody else,” says Vivian after running into Lucy on the stairs. Lucy replies and says “but I’m gonna keep my head up, high”
The rise of moxie
Lucy’s constant stumbling towards Mitchell made her earn his wrath. Mitchell then takes revenge by adding her to a ranking of girls made by him and his high school football bros. Lucy gets a copy of the list and shows it to the principal while elucidating why it should be taken seriously. The principal brushes it off as social media chatter and refuses to acknowledge that Lucy is being harassed.
After the sexist list going viral, Vivian slides into her mom’s old leather jackets and publishes her “Moxie” zine calling out the misogynistic behavior in her high school and plasters it all over the school, anonymously. Moxie encouraged females to stand up for their rights and excluding the school dress codes than only applies to girls with certain body types. These antiquated rules often shame girls by promoting the idea that they should dress modestly because showing skin will distract the boys. The film should be applauded for addressing this problem.
More Vivian, less Lucy?
In Moxie we see more Vivian and less Lucy. Who is Lucy? What’s her story? Her goals? What music she’s into? She isn’t the only person of color used to prop up Vivian. Two of the supporters of Moxie are two Black girls (Sydney Park and Anjelika Washington) who play on the championship-winning soccer team. Again, all we learn about them is that they are good at soccer and they scribble hearts and stars on their wrists in support of Moxie.
Moxie is more focused on feminine identity and female bonds using riot Girllls music in the background and feminist zines for motivation. With a slight nod to the immigrant, race, and trans experience. The move is more of victimization of women rather than inspiration. It portrays it into some kind of a movement inspired by the need for change, how are you supposed to show change and “find your voice” in a movie where all the director did was throw a leather jacket. Not only that but also backs up a black girl by taking over her entire personality. This movie is more about a girl who sees feminism and activism as a Twitter trend that requires a personality makeover.