‘Natural Selection’is a Feminist Feat

NATURAL SELECTION is a feminist film: there’s a lady protagonist on a mission that involves quite a lot more than her body and the journey sets her free of all social restraints, even the need for love. She is strong, without self-pity, and proactively seeks out pleasure and accomplishment without being punished for it. While the leading lady has body troubles -her life issues stem from the affects of a secret home abortion that went wrong and left her barren- and the troubles are bodily resolved (it turns out she is not barren…tada!), there is a great spiritual quest that extends beyond her physicality, into the deep individuality she meets on the road. Rachael Harris shines bright as a the protagonist: a wholesome, naive, Christian housewife who breaks free in an amazingly unwholesome way. This leading lady -Linda White- drives off on her own twice in the film, and each time it is to take back the reigns of her own life force. Her body, mind, and overall self were underestimated, with the excuse of religion and morality, no less- and she makes it her mission throughout the story to march forward in spite of the underestimations.

With tons of courage, she gains the confidence of the audience, as a capable, sweet, and daring leader. When we first see Linda, she is struggling with her sexuality. She wants to have sex with her husband. She is a wife who literally wants to sexually attack her husband, yet he gets up calmly, cautions her about the Lord, and leads her in prayer. What is natural about this scenario? A man who does not want sex probably won’t ring “natural” to most audience members, and while a woman who does might, the former points to an oncoming plot twist. Soon enough, it becomes clear that the husband, Abe, is pleasing the Lord by multiplying…with Anonymous via a donation cup and syringe.

Linda and Abe cannot have sex, because Linda is, as far as they know, barren. With no hope of impregnation, they consider it a sin to waste Abe’s sperm. A few minutes into the film, Abe goes into a coma at the clinic and everything comes out. Linda forgives her husband, because she’s afraid he will die, she is a good Christian, and most of all: she blames herself for not being able to give him children. When she goes to visit him, he mumbles something about a son in his sleep. She decides that she must find this first son, Raymond, and bring him back before it’s too late. The journey takes her far from home, onto the open road – alone. Alone, she is reminded by her nagging sister and her husband (who happens to be in love and lust with her), is not what a woman should be, but she ignores them.

Perhaps Linda knows that the road trip is more for her own growth than it is for her husband’s recovery, because her stubbornness seems out of place with the other character’s perceptions of her, to the point when she drives off. This depth of knowing makes her extremely determined to succeed and go back home. Things will not be the same, she won’t be the same -and in those wide eyes of hers, viewers can reflect on the inevitable change long before it happens. So: Linda is barren and must remain sexless, Linda’s husband falls into a comatose state, and Linda goes on a mission to find a man who may be his son in the name of reckoning just what is wrong with her to begin with. These actions result in Linda interacting with a man on a new level (passionately and sexually), finding out that she is not barren long after he is gone (he’s a criminal, after all), and having to deal with her relationship again once her husband comes out of the coma. Linda ends up back on the road, with a thirst for freedom, because -in the end- she has what she needs growing inside her: something to love and a strong sense of self to grow it with.

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