Women, she's argued, are all too often relegated to playing secondary parts, and have very few opportunities to do truly gutsy things on camera.
It was her role as Thelma in "Thelma & Louise" led her to what she's called her "revelation."
"Identifying with a character is one of the best parts of seeing a movie, but as women, we’ve had to train ourselves to experience the male journey. So from then on, I made a conscious choice to think about the women in the audience. 'What will they think?'" she told Vulture earlier this year. "And it’s not to say we aren’t girlfriends, wives, or partners -- of course we are. But that’s not all we are, and that’s the problem."
The movie premiered 25 years ago today, but the truth is, it's tough to name a film since that has not only explores the importance of female friendship, but does so in an unapologetically feminist way.
Among the moments from the film that are the most celebratory of female empowerment:
Louise gives Thelma a hard time about her low-life husband: Louise, an independent woman who works at a local diner, mocks Thelma for saying she needs her husband's permission before agreeing to go on the trip. When they're on the road, Thelma complains that "all he wants me to do is hang around the house the whole time when he does God knows what." "You get what you settle for," Louise responds.
Louise's interaction with Harlan: When Harlan, a drunken misogynist, hits on Thelma, Louise tells him to get lost. However, Thelma is enjoying the flirtation and agrees to dance with him. Things take a dark turn a few moments later, though; When Thelma complains that she feels sick, he takes advantage of the situation and tries to sexually assault her. Ultimately, Louise scares him off and tells him emphatically, "In the future, when a woman's crying like that, she's not having any fun."
Thelma and Louise's relationship with the truck driver: Throughout their journey, Thelma and Louise continue to pass a truck driver who makes lewd gestures at them. "How original," Louise remarks. "You pig," adds Thelma. Eventually, they actually come face-to-face with the truck driver, and confront him about his behavior. "Where do you get off behaving that way with women you don't even know, huh?" Louise asks him. "How'd you feel if someone did that to your mother or your sister or your wife?" (The rest of the interaction isn't as cordial. He refuses to apologize and they blow up his truck.)