Coyote Ugly Takes A Surprisingly Modern Stance On Women's Sexuality That We Never Fully Appreciated

Baby you're the right kind of wrong.

Coyote Ugly is one of the great female-focused films of the 2000’s, fit out with original music, romance, and a change-room outfit montage. Although, unlike a lot of a lot of our favourite films of the noughties, Coyote Ugly has actually aged surprisingly well.

By no means was Coyote Ugly perfect, but rewatching it now (it’s recently available on Stan) gave me a fresh appreciation for the empowered stance taken on women’s sexuality.

The film follows the story of a Violet, a young, hot, white girl (not a revolutionary protagonist, played by Piper Perabo). While chasing her dreams of being a songwriter in New York City, she makes a living working in the Coyote Ugly Saloon – based on the real bar where the show put on by the female bartenders is the main attraction.

The ‘Coyotes’ of Coyote Ugly‘s bar crew use their sexuality to make an impressive amount of cash – more than your average city gig. They wear skimpy outfits, they do provocative dances and they each role play as a stereotypical fantasy woman: The Russian Tease, The New York Bitch, The Virgin Prep-school Teacher/Nun.

These women invite and monetise the male gaze, and the movie respects that choice instead of shaming it.

This movie came out in 2001, before the call for the necessary respect due to sex workers and strippers became mainstream discourse, so it is a happy surprise to see that the bottom line is that the work the women do at Coyote Ugly Saloon is just a job that deserves respect like any other.

From the get go, the Coyotes are women whose lives are prosperous. Tyra Banks’ character (Zoe) is leaving the bar to go to law school, Cammie is engaged, and Violet is simultaneously pursuing her song-writing aspirations.

These characters are not depicted as damsels, ‘broken’ women, or ‘off the rails’. They are women who are sexually empowered and just doing a job.

What’s even better is that, in spite of the prominent role men play in their work, their worlds to not revolve around men. In fact, Coyote Ugly actually passes the Bechdel test.

While Violet is clearly enjoying her gig singing, dancing,  pouring drinks and bonding with her female coworkers, the men in her life inevitably shame her for it. After seeing her on the job, her father cruelly says,

“For the first time in my life, I was ashamed of you.”

Similarly, her boyfriend – the unfathomably attractive Aussie dreamboat, Adam Garcia – ends up mocking Violet’s use of her own sexuality for financial gain, and accuses her of doing a job void of dignity.

This dress down actually directly follows a display of uncontrolled violent rage, so his judgment should really be focused on himself.

Although the male characters represent the admonishment that women in this line of work frequently experience, Coyote Ugly sides with those women.

Violet’s father and boyfriend are depicted as the ones in the wrong and they are made to deal with their prejudices. By the end of the film, both support Violet and embrace the Coyote Ugly job.

Then, just as Zoe successfully gets herself to law school, Violet (somewhat unrealistically) cracks into the music biz. These women are not held back by choosing a line of work that monetises their sexuality. It is just that – a choice.

We never fully appreciated it, but Coyote Ugly takes a decisive stance on the the sexual empowerment of women. Plus the soundtrack still bangs, so it’s got a lot going for it.

Phoebe Tonkin Weighs In On Whether She Prefers Her 'H20' Mermaid Powers Or Her Young-Again 'Bloom' Powers

Good to have an Aussie icon back on Aussie screens.

Phoebe Tonkin came into our lives and hearts as Cleo, one third of the H20: Just Add Water mermaid girl-gang. Since then she’s launched to international fame via roles in the CW’s Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and The Secret Circle – which I’m still very upset got cancelled.

Now she’s back on our screens in a home-grown Aussie series that’s dropping exclusively on Stan come New Year’s Day: Bloom.

Bloom is an Australian original, high-production, drama series that explores the possibilities (and consequences) of becoming somehow young again.

It’s a supernatural occurrence that isn’t clearly a blessing or a curse, so of course when we sat down with Bloom stars Phoebe Tonkin and Ryan Corr (our very own Blue Water High star), we asked them to weigh in on the supernatural powers of Bloom…and H20: Just Add Water.

When asked to decide whether it was a blessing or a curse to become a mermaid every time you touch water and have the power to control bodies of water (ie. Cleo’s H20 power), Phoebe Tonkin didn’t hesitate.

Blessing. Yea I think everyone wants to be a mermaid.”

There’s been no shortage of time spent by H20 fans pondering the practicality of the whole mermaid-when-wet situation. It raises a lot of questions about bodily fluids (what happens when you sweat?), and sanitation (how do you ever clean your lower half?), just to start.

So as a curious and diehard H20 fan, I prodded about the TV show that I was definitely not invited there to talk about – “Every time you touch water?”

“Maybe not every time” she admitted. “That is the situation…hmmm, yea that is a problem.”

So Phoebe came through with a solution of how she would do things differently with her H20: Just Add Water mermaid powers if she was calling the shots.

“I think you just commit to being a mermaid and you just live in the sea and you don’t try to do anything normal and be in the ocean.”

Honestly, that makes a lot of sense, and it’s a red hot opportunity to exit the iron-clad restraints of our capitalist society so why NOT take it???

On the other hand, Tonkin admitted that the power to become young again was really “a little bit of a curse.” Her co-star Ryan Corr agreed that he would definitely choose being a merman and Cleo’s power to wield water over the you’re-only-young-twice supernatural power they encounter in Bloom.

“I think, you know, you are the sum of the experiences you’ve had in your life,” Phoebe Tonkin explained, “and to kind of go back and rewrite that … you’re really rewriting the rest of your life by going back. And I think there’s something sort of, I don’t know, sad about that, because it means that your entire life was – not pointless – but it wasn’t how you wished you lived it.”

While the power to become young again might be a curse, the thought experiment makes extremely good TV, and it’s great to see that Australia continues to raise the standard of supernaturally-themed screen projects – from the iconic H20: Just Add Water, to the illustrious drama of Bloom. 

You can binge Bloom from New Year’s Day on Stan to see Aussie productions and our Aussie teen screen queen dominate once again.

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