‘All I Wanna Do’ Is Still The Underrated Feminist Film We Need

“No more little white gloves!”

Why don’t we ever talk about the explicit feminism of 1998’s All I Wanna Do? Is it because of its cast? I think Kirsten Dunst, Heather Matarazzo, Rachel Leigh Cook and Gaby Hoffmann were names huge enough to bring in the bucks. Could it be the subject matter? Was the theme of teenage feminists in revolt an unpopular plot? Perhaps it was the dilemma of the title? Well, actually, yes…it was. The film was given a small release under the name All I Wanna Do instead of The Hairy Bird, a euphemism for the male genitalia. Witty.

During the early 1960s, high school teen Odette Sinclair (Gaby Hoffman) is transferred, to her great dismay, from a coed institution to an all-girls New England boarding school. After learning that plans are in the works to merge Miss Godard’s School for Girls with a nearby boys institution, she and her sorority sister, Verena von Stefan (Kirsten Dunst), go on strike against the school. Throughout, the pair are pitted against meddling school monitor Abigail Sawyer (Rachael Leigh Cook).

But can we talk about this film and whether you’ve seen it? If you haven’t, no judgement. I get why. I barely crossed paths with it while browsing bins at Blockbuster. When I saw it, I wondered how this film had gone under my radar–I mean, Matthew Lawrence was in it. It hit all the right points for me and immediately, I knew I had to bring it home. It was like Now and Then meets American Pie meets Dead Poets Society. Not a bad film cocktail, if I must say so. And then there’s the added spirit of women coming together in solidarity to overthrow the patriarchy–which in this film–is working to wipe out the established foundation of their prep school. The girls, who bickered with each other on occasion, set their differences aside to revolt, protest and take action. They believed making the school co-ed would set back the intended integrity of the school–because without the distraction of men, there was zero pressure, whether from themselves or the opposite sex.

The D.A.R. Club (Daughters of The American Ravioli)

Without spoiling All I Wanna Do, it sounds a little like the ‘She-Woman Man Haters Club.’ But trust me, it isn’t. What makes this film appealing to everyone is its ability to convey that feminism knows no gender, as the supporting male characters assisted Miss Godard’s schoolgirl’s in accomplishing their goals–in love, revenge and justice. Not because they didn’t feel the girls could accomplish anything, they just wanted to stand together. They were all a working team. Vincent Kartheiser and Tom Guiry–who played Smalls in The Sandlot–round out the bunch quite well too.

In an industry where films like All I Wanna Do are few and far between, it’s easy to forget that feminism is not some big, scary and exclusive thing. Not truly, at least. Its plot is more than relevant today and empowering–all of this, with a huge dose of comedy intertwined. The experience it sparked among its audience, is similar to that of what occurred when we watched Beyonce’s Lemonade. Yes, both bodies of work are totally different, however, the emotions both films drew from us happened to be things we felt–without knowing exactly what they were. This process, is therapy. Whether your current goal is to work in STEM, be a child psychologist, stunning actress/folk singer, or a girl who dreams of a career in politics but has a short term mission to rendezvous with your dream boy, Miss Godard’s welcomes you. Just be sure to bring a can of cold ravioli. It’s the only way to completely enjoy your stay.


When she's not getting lost in fantastical worlds with the fictional characters she writes, Tia tends to lead something of a normal life. She enjoys the hours of her day by sifting through comics at her local comic book shop, blogging as a pop culture analyst, writing multicultural fantasy, watching "Tangled" and One Direction videos on repeat with her toddler, playing air guitar to Thin Lizzy, connecting life with '90s film quotes and finding new ways to sneak a bite of pizza when she knows she shouldn't. You can find her tweeting here and there, @tatixtia.

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