LADY BOSS, Jackie Collins: What her works and legacy mean to me as a young woman.
By Betsy Sheil
I recently watched Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story, directed by Laura Fairrie, with my mum, she was buzzing to me about the Collins’ sisters work, me admittingly not knowing more than a name and a face to either, but I loved it. Lady Boss allowed me not only to explore the lives of strong women but be reminded of the necessity that is women’s ownership over their sexuality and promiscuity, something that has been fought back by the media for years.
As someone in Gen Z, I found myself noticing things from the film that I see in my life today. Whilst I have grown up with more exposure to strong female models than ever before, the rejection of Jackie Collins’ work and the rejection of the female gaze on sex reminded me of many things I still see as a young woman today. The repeated rhetoric that I learnt in school and social environments growing up where female ownership over one’s body was shamed, ‘slut’ was the common dialect of teenage boys in school, equally was ‘frigid’. The narrative that Jackie Collins was “too much” for portraying her gaze on sex, and the attitude that sex is something that is ‘disgusting’ when discussed by a woman is a narrative I, and many young women, are subject to.
From as young as 10, sex education was not taught in a ‘sex positive’ way. It again fed the male gaze, the boys in my year didn’t even learn about periods. I remember my primary school teacher telling them we were rehearsing for a ‘dance’ when in actuality she was teaching us about tampons and pads. From that experience alone as young women, we were taught that female sex was something to be secret and discreet about, even our anatomy was something to be kept hushed. Through secondary school not much changed, but sex education instead was taught in a purely biological sense, we were provided with no additional lessons on sex and relationships and the sex-ed we were taught was consequently non-inclusive, focused on the male gaze and was purely to cover a curriculum. Consequently, consent and sexual assault was something not addressed within my school. Instead over the years my school, and many other schools in the UK slut-shaming and sexual harassment have become an epidemic.
As a young woman, I was only able to educate myself on positive, inclusive sex education until recently and externally to the education system. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without sex-positive role models and sex-positive media. I wouldn’t be able to have access to this without the works of women such as Jackie Collins. The Impact of her work on not only literature but modern feminism and sex-positivity cannot be ignored, and ‘Lady Boss’ allowed me to see Jackie Collins’ true impact. I cannot think about Meghan Fox’s ‘Jennifer’ in ‘Jennifer’s Body’ without thinking about Jackie Collins and ‘Lucky Santangelo’.
The power and fearlessness of Jackie Collins’ portrayal was something else I admire as a young woman, from the large shoulder-padded suits and big hair to Jackie’s confident walk onto talk shows where she knew she would most likely face some criticism for her work. Her presence felt strong on-screen, she felt confident in her works and I admired that. In many ways, Jackie Collins lives up to the title of ‘Lady Boss’. Watching “Lady Boss” and the legacy of Jackie Collins reminded me of the importance of having ownership over myself and I felt inspired and touched throughout the film.
Betsy Sheil is an Arts student from Nottingham. From a young age, she has been an avid lover of filmmaking and the local cinema (Broadway in Nottingham). Although a lover of all film, Betsy has a particular interest in the promotion of female and non-binary filmmakers, and how the presentation of women on screen is evolving and changing. She also has a soft spot for the comedy genre and is a dedicated fan of Olivia Wilde’s ‘Booksmart’. Currently studying for her A levels, Betsy hopes to go on to work in filmmaking/film journalism.