At 43 years old, even Bridget expected to be settled down and married by now, but despite the (what we thought was a) pretty conclusive ending to Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, she's still single, though this time she refuses to listen to sad songs alone with glass of wine on the evening of her birthday. Now, she dances alone to fun, energetic songs with a glass of wine on the evening of her birthday. I know which one I'd rather be doing.
With all of her old friends settled down and married by this point in the series, Bridget seems to be slightly more distant from them now. This led me to posing this question: Is it really that bad to be over 40 and still single?
As someone not that interested in marriage and children (they're so noisy?!), my instant answer to that question is a solidly conclusive "no." The state of Bridget's life at the start of Bridget Jones's Baby seems to be in a fairly stable state: She's got a great career, she's got an exciting new set of friends and she's going on fantastic weekend trips to music festivals. If that was my life at 40, I would not be complaining one bit.
The film itself doesn't exactly say that this is what our lives should be like at 40, though; in fact, it probably sways more towards settling down into marriage being the more ideal scenario out of the two. However, although this is the case, it doesn't shame those that may choose otherwise — it very much embraces it. The greatest strength of this movie is its ability to show varying possibilities of how people could be spending their time, and proving them both to be highly fulfilling lifestyle choices.
The Art Of Sleeping Around
Although executed clumsily, Bridget has a pretty damn good time with both Jack and Mark. I almost applauded her on both occasions. She finds herself in situations where an attractive man is literally offering her sex, thinks "is this something I want to be doing?...Yes!" and takes the opportunity while she can. She's in control of her own sex life, and she's having a great time.
There is a down side to it, though. Due to her inability to understand the concept of a condom expiration date (I mean, seriously?), she ends up pregnant and doesn't know who the father of her baby is. This does highlight the riskier side of these casual encounters, but it's actually handled very well. There isn't that much negative judgement towards her, and when there is (notably so from her mother) Bridget stands up for herself and boldly states that her situation is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, the plot actually educates its audience on a really important message: Always check the expiration date on a condom.
"But this whole situation could have been avoided if she'd just not had sex!" Well spotted. Yes, Bridget could have dodged this entire scenario if she hadn't jumped into bed with two different men, but that wasn't what she wanted to do. If you would've preferred abstinence, then good for you. That's your decision and I respect that, but Bridget's decision was to have sex, and you should learn to respect that, regardless of what your opinion is.
That's another important message this film delivers. The characters in the film have extremely varying views on sex — from Bridget's mother's conservative ideals to her friend Miranda's extremely liberal attitudes — and it doesn't really say that either side of the argument is entirely wrong. All it really does is point out that when your opinion begins to hurt others, you really need to step back and reconsider how you approach the matter. It's alright to disagree with people, just don't be a dick about it.
Women's Bodies And What To Do With Them
There's an underlying theme of women's rights among the rest of the plot, as we see from Mark Darcy's defense of the feminist rock band in the court room. They're in danger of being extradited to their home country, where their voices will be silenced, and they're very vocal in their distaste of that idea. From breaking the quiet of the court room to exposing their tits on live TV with the words "we love Mark Darcy" painted across their chests, these women are boisterous, but kind in their own, unusual way.
What this exposure of breasts also addresses is the Free the Nipple campaign, and as a result, gives a nod to the issue of telling women what to do with their bodies. Either women are wearing too little and are therefore a distraction, or they're wearing too much and look too intimidating. Or, women who expose lots of skin are automatically empowered, and women who choose to be more modest are oppressed. Or, women who wear very little are sluts and women who wear more are prudes.
Or, perhaps the matter of what women wear is their choice alone, and whether something is empowering or not relies heavily on the context of the situation, so one fixed answer cannot be given for all scenarios.
This is a far more indirect message delivered through the film. A slightly more direct example would be the subject of women's choices when it comes to having sex. Bridget's friend Miranda is a very sexually active woman who isn't shy about the topic and actively encourages Bridget to go out and get laid. She's quite typically masculine in the sense that going out and having lots of sex is something usually associated with men, but she defies that expectation and does what she wants with her body.
The idea that this conveys (which I suspect is unintentional, but I very much like anyway) is that the amount of people a woman has sex with really doesn't matter. Despite Miranda being quite a small supporting character in this story, there's still more to her than just her impressive sexual prowess — she's someone with a successful career, a great sense of humor, and she's a supportive friend to Bridget, too. To judge her negatively purely because she has a lot of sex is frankly ridiculous, because she's so much more than just a number.
Believe it or not, this applies to women in real life, too. Having sex doesn't make you a bad person. What makes someone a bad person is when they have a disregard for other people's feelings and use them completely for their own gain. If Miranda was sleeping with people and leading them on to believe there was something more than sex to their relationship, then that would make her a bad person. She's not doing that. From what she describes, everyone she's involved with understands it's a no-strings-attached situation and they're all happy with the outcome. Branding her a "slut" because of this and negatively judging her purely based on those actions alone is a pretty cruel thing to do, so why would we do the same thing to women in everyday life?
Bridget Jones's Baby Isn't Revolutionary, But It's Got Something
I don't think this is a feminist masterpiece out to tell the world about women's rights, but it's got a subtext to it that appears to intertwine empowering messages about sex with the rest of the story. It certainly isn't without its flaws in regards to delivering these ideas, but that's to be expected. Its main focus is about love, not sex, so to focus purely on sexual empowerment could be contradictory to the nature of the Bridget Jones series.
The movie handles the subject of Bridget's sex life very maturely; it doesn't place her in a bad light for having multiple partners in a short space of time, it more so criticizes her for not knowing how to handle her condoms. If anything, it teaches us to be safer with our sex and not end up with an unexpected pregnancy.
Furthermore, the way Mark and Jack react to discovering each other's involvement with Bridget's baby isn't one that shames her for having a lot of sex; they're actually more interested in the well-being of the baby and don't really seem that concerned with Bridget's sex life. And why would they? At the end of the day it really, really doesn't matter. Especially because, y'know, there's a baby on the way too.
The one who really does look down on Bridget for her behavior is her mother, but eventually even she sees that her reaction has upset her daughter and does what she can to make it up to Bridget. Even if it isn't done gracefully, she really tries, and it's really quite (weirdly) sweet.
Bridget Jones's Baby presents us with very modern attitudes towards sex, and even gives us a little advice on how not to manage it. Bridget's journey alone isn't sexually empowering, but the support and attitudes of her friends and family helps to make it that. It shows us the changing world we live in — both on an smaller scale and a larger one — but it doesn't do this to the extent that it distracts us from the main point of the film. All in all, if we really pay attention we can learn important lessons about sex in this film, and how to respect others with differing opinions to our own.
Check out the trailer for Bridget Jones's Baby below:
What do you think is the biggest piece of advice for women that can be gleaned from the Bridget Jones series?