Having been both the giver and receiver of that unique brand of rage known as "remorseless female wrath," I can confirm that hell truly does have no fury like a woman scorned. But you didn't need me to tell you that. As any Quentin Tarantino, Park Chan-wook or George Miller movie will tell you, cinema has a manic obsession for depicting women releasing their inner ferocity on the world, and in particular, women who are able to reap havoc using only the power of their minds.
Ever since Carrie flung open the flood gates of merciless pigs blood back in '76, our screens have been populated with extraordinary women with extraordinary telekinetic powers, able to move objects, and people, with nothing but their sheer mental prowess. From Mary Poppins to Matilda, Pru Halliwell to Eleven, women single handedly dominate in the field of putting mind over matter, but why is this the case?
A Brief History Of Telekinetic Females
- The Seething Seventies
While giving a very special nod to the unbridled telekinetic master otherwise known as Marry Poppins (1968), it was undoubtedly Brian De Palma's stunning 1976 menstrual thriller, Carrie, that put telekinesis, and especially female telekinetics firmly on the map. Spawning a plethora of female-led imitations such as The Spell (1977), The Initiation of Sarah (1978), Jennifer (1978) and De Palma's second movie, The Fury (1978), the late '70s were a veritable hotbed of psychically savage females, and Abba.
- The Explosive Eighties
The next decade saw a nine-year-old Drew Barrymore destroy a government facility to avenge her parents deaths in Firestarter (1984), Tina's telekinesis help take down Freddy in Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) and Courtney Cox play Gloria, a "troubled telekinetic teen with a history of juvenile delinquency" in the (sadly) short lived Misfits of Science (1985-1986). Although still overwhelmingly angry, these female characters began to demonstrate a greater mastery over their craft than their '70s predecessors. See above majestic pool-flipping GIF for evidence.
- The Neutral Nineties
The nineties brought with them a host of telekinetic females but mostly in TV shows, which demonstrated a gradual move away from telepathically enraged women towards a calmer, more balanced set of supernatural female characters. These included Alex from The Secret World of Alex Mack (1994-1998), Talia and Lyta from Babylon 5 (1994-1998) Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2001) and Pru from Charmed (1998-2006). Oh, and we were also blessed with the worlds most charming telekinetic to date in Matilda (1996).
- The Naughties Up Until Present Day
The past sixteen years have presented us with an astoundingly eclectic selection of female telekinetics, each building on the characters of the previous three decades in their own unique way. Taking the cue from the more wrathful characters of the '70s we've had the likes of Junko in Pyrokinesis (2000) and Zoe in The Lazarus Effect (2015). Demonstrative of the more vengefully controlled figures of the '80s we've had Sara from Disney's reboot of Return From Witch Mountain (2009), Bo Adams from Believe (2014), Lucy from Lucy (2014) and Eleven from Stranger Things (2016).
And championing the more balanced telekenitics of the '90s we've had Elsa from Frozen (2014) and a slew of female superheroes: Summer Jones from Zoom (2006), the Invisible Woman from The Fantastic Four franchise (2005, 2007 and 2015) and Jean Grey from the X-Men franchise (2000, 2003, 2006, 2013 and 2016).
While the way telekinesis is used by female characters in movies and TV has undoubtedly evolved over the past forty years, the fact that the telekinetic female is still very much a presence on our screens is indicative of our enduring fascination for this peculiar character trope. But just why are we so captivated by these telepathically gifted women, and why do they seem to be such a permanent fixture in our lives?
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Telekinesis Is A Case Of Brains Over Brawn
Perhaps one of the more obvious reasons why women are so frequently given the power of telekinesis is that it imbues them with the ability to do equal and oftentimes more damage then someone (read, male) with significant physical strength. As women are more broadly stereotyped as being physically weaker then their male counterparts, giving them an unbridled strength that they can access through the sheer force of their minds flattens any gendered strength-disparity present within their immediate context. However, as the likes of Carrie, Jennifer and Zoe from The Lazarus Effect show us, they may not always be in full cogent control over their power, which brings us on to our next point:
Like Being A Woman, Telekinesis Is Both A Gift And A Curse
Just as Eve was blessed with having unlimited access to the Garden of Eden and being made from Adams's rib, so too did she bring the curse of sin into humanity by eating the snake's forbidden fruit. All of the female characters who are given telekinetic powers are likewise both gifted and cursed by their abilities, and we are arguably drawn to them because they symbolize one of the most ancient female archetypes: the cursed woman trying to adjust to or rectify her curse.
Of course this is most directly referenced in Carrie when Carrie White is repeatedly told by her religious fanatic mother that since having her first period during the opening scene of the movie that she is now vulnerable to the most base of human sins, the sins of the flesh. Ultimately, Carrie as the gifted but cursed telekinetic female is led through a series of increasingly incriminating experiences until the only way she can achieve retribution is by going flat-out psychotic on everyone, both good and bad, hence:
Telekinetic Rage As Female Retribution
Even though Carrie is murdering hundreds of innocent people, we can't help but empathize with her and that's because most female telekinetics exert all of their energy trying not to use their power for evil, and accordingly, only do so after a lengthy period of being provoked. In nearly every case, telepathically gifted women use their powers either because they haven't learnt to control them, or because they are seeking revenge or attempting to protect themselves or someone they love.
This can be said of each of the characters mentioned in this piece so far with the exception of Mary Poppins who was using her powers predominantly to tidy children's bedrooms and Zoe from The Lazarus Effect, but this was largely because she was rendered insane. This is mostly due to the fact that if females are going to be causing mass destruction, they have to be seen to be doing so in a morally righteous, or at least culpably understandable way because few things are more terrifying that a woman rebelling without a cause.
Telekinesis Is The Ultimate Power Of The Victim
Given that telekinesis is a great physical equalizer generally utilized in the pursuit of a moral cause, this explains why so many of our female telekinetics tend to be children or females who have been horribly wronged. Come to think of it, there seem to be relatively few female telekinetics beyond the age of thirty five, but that could just be because their power often becomes their untimely undoing, or because no one wants to see a haggard forty plus year-old woman on their screens, ew gross.
For victims of abuse who feel powerless against the forces of control which dominate every area of the life, their minds become their last places of autonomous solace. Consequently, as the last remaining part of themselves which refuses to be colonized, their minds become the focus of all of their anger, frustration and hurt. As the only channel available for them when they are physically trapped such as Gillian in Fury and Bo Adams in Believe, or mentally trapped such as Carrie, or both such as Eleven in Stranger Things, these women exploit the one small patch of independence they have, to dramatic, telekinetic effect.
A Warning To All The Vile, Feral P*ssy Grabbers
As women are so often made to feel physically and mentally inferior in a world dominated by men, we perpetually give them the the gift (and the curse) of telekinesis as it allows them to do the following:
- Match the physical strength of their (usually) male oppressors.
- Right the terrible wrongs committed against them by their (usually) male abusers.
- Change their narrative from that of victim to that of empowered, autonomous icons of unbridled feminine power.
Vile, P*ssy grabbing cretins — you have been warned.