Can I truly call myself a 90s kid if I was born in 1990? I was in single digits for the whole decade, so I wasn’t quite old enough to experience some 90s classics as they were happening. Last week was my first viewing of the 1995 film Clueless! Though, strangely, I did have the computer game that simulated Cher’s virtual closet program. It shouted “As if!!!” if you gave Cher an unfashionable outfit. It was awesome.
Besides the valley girl catchphrases and fabulous fashion, I took something more away from Clueless. I found that Clueless can teach the modern woman (and man) a lot of valuable lessons about life and love.
Nothing is consent, except consent.
When Cher and her friends attend a house party, they decide to play the party game “Suck and Blow.” Basically, you have to pass a playing card from person to person via your mouth by sucking and blowing between each person. When the card is about to be passed between Cher and a guy named Elton, the card falls to the ground, resulting in a kiss between the two. When Elton offers Cher a ride home after the party, he comes on to her, citing their kiss as a green light for his actions. Elton continues to push himself on her, while Cher says, “Suck and blow is just a game!” This is something that is important for both men and women to know. Just because someone flirts with you or kisses you or does anything with you, they are not expressing consent for sex unless those words are said. No one owes anyone anything because of a kiss.
Losing your virginity is no one’s business but your own.
While a strong theme throughout the movie is definitely sex and having it for the first time, this desire isn’t based on peer pressure. Instead, it’s about each character finding out when it is (or isn’t) the right time for them. When new girl Tai reveals she’s had a lot of sex to Cher and her friend Dionne, they in turn reveal they are virgins. Tai is initially surprised, exclaiming, “You’re a virgin?!?!” while Cher replies, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.” While the girls are surprised to find out their respective statuses, there isn’t any slut-shaming or virgin bashing. Dionne and Cher don’t call Tai a whore or easy and Tai doesn’t call Cher a prude when she explains she hasn’t found the right guy to do it with yet. Your sexuality is your own business, no one else’s. Conversely, someone else’s sexuality is none of your business either! No one has the right to tell someone when he or she should have sex or who it should be with.
Be honest with your significant other if you don’t like the way they treat you.
The first time we meet him, Dionne’s long-time boyfriend Murray calls Dionne “woman.” Dionne immediately calls him out on it, saying “Murray, I have asked you repeatedly not to call me woman.” We come to find out he tends to act like this a lot around his friends, in order to look “cool.” How your significant other treats you when you’re alone or around other people is crucial to any relationship. If you don’t like how you’re being treated, tell them! Don’t let any terms or words that make you uncomfortable slip by, especially when they’re directed at you.
Not everyone will like you back, and that’s okay.
Cher thinks that she’s found the perfect man when new student Christian comes to school. However, Christian turns out to be gay. Before she is set straight, she tries to seduce him. Though this is definitely an embarrassing situation, Cher doesn’t really make a big deal about it. She ends up shrugging it off and actually becomes buddies with Christian. Not everyone you like is going to like you back, and regardless of the reason, it’s a fact of life we all need to accept. Making a big deal about it won’t solve anything. All you can do is shake it off and move on; your life will be much easier.
While Cher may not be a perfect role model, she is the epitome of every popular, queen-bee girl in high school. Girls like her have been, and continue to be, influencers of young girls (and boys) around the world. While this southern California high school was worlds away from my own tiny Missouri counterpart, the themes of teenagedom are universal: romantic interests, friends and fitting in, figuring out what kind of person you want to be, etc. This is what makes Clueless so relatable; it was no one’s high school experience and everyone’s high school experience at the same time. In high school everyone has a crush, everyone feels awkward at a party, and everyone knows a Cher. The problem is, if you were like me, the Cher in your life wasn’t necessarily a great role model. Fortunately I had other wonderful female role models to look up to, both in my real life and in fictional characters. People like Hermione Granger, Veronica Mars, and Jo March all taught me that being an intelligent, witty, strong woman was a wonderful thing! However, none of these girls were really what you would call “popular” in their respective worlds. Allowing teenage royalty like Cher and her friends to share such important lessons with the viewer gives young girls everywhere women who can inspire them to be strong, independent feminists.
Written by Caroline Slavin
Follow her on Twitter @hpcaro!