Things I Love About Kat Stratford

There have been few female characters in a teen movie or TV show that have been as amazing as Kat Stratford. Ok, this is a fully biased opinion because I LOVE 10 Things I Hate About You. From beginning to end this is one of my favourite movies, and not just because I am and always will be a Heath Ledger fan (I even love him in The Patriot).

I first watched 10 Things I Hate About You for Heath. That smile. The accent. It was everything 14 year old Megan lusted after. Plus in 10 Things Heath is that bad boy with the soft interior that I pursued for much of my teen and early adult years. So Heath aka Patrick Verona drew me to the movie, but it’s Kat Stratford that kept me coming back. (I’ve watched 10 Things I Hate About You four times in the last year, because it’s just that good.) In honour of one of my favourite movies, and Kat Stratford, here are my Things I Love about Kat Stratford.

  1. Kat opened my mind to feminist books and launched me into a world of book loving and reading: Full confession, the copy of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath on my book shelf, that I’ve carted from my parent’s house, to a shitty basement suite in Vancouver, to apartments and now to my house, was purchased because Kat was reading it in the movie. We didn’t read The Bell Jar in school because that would have meant reading a book by a female author with a female protagonist (insert lots of sarcasm here). At another point in the movie she’s walking through a book store, Patrick Verona is following her and when she sees him there he asks about finding a copy of the The Feminine Mystique because he’s lost his. She thrusts it into his chest, before storming off. Reading The Bell Jar opened the door for more feminist titles that I’d never heard of and started me on an exploration of books that would have never been assigned in my high school classrooms. Also she’s often reading and engaging with writing in a way that is interesting, and also cool, because she’s cool, impressionable 14-year-old Megan thought, “well it reading is cool, and I want to be cool…” So I bought a copy of The Bell Jar from Tanner’s Books in Sidney, BC and it’s been my companion ever since.
  2. Kat gives few fucks about what people ( and men in particular) think of her: Kat is her sister Bianca’s opposite. Bianca likes to look cute, to wear make up, to dress up and to attract the eye of one boy in particular Joey Donner (a jock and aspiring model played by Andrew Keegan). Kat is combat boots, messy buns, Riot Grrrl music and no make up. Kat says what she thinks even if it might land her in Ms. Perky’s (the guidance counsellor/erotica writer played by Alison Janney — I could write a full post on how much I love Ms. Perky) office. When Patrick starts showing interest in her, she doesn’t make it easy for him because she’s uninterested in romance and relationships, but event badass feminist teen idols can fall in love, right?
  3. Kat showed us that being a teen girl contains multitudes: The next time I saw a character in a movie or TV that reminded me of Kat was Maeve in Sex Education (Maeve also has GREAT taste in books). These kind of feminist teen female characters still seem rare, and when their wit and anger and give no fucks attitude fills hours of tv and movies, it’s often described as bitchy and puts people off. But hell, maybe this is because society still has a problem with angry women, with complex women, with women who aren’t into pleasing others? Kat, like so many teen girls, was struggling with identity. Her dad, her teachers, her sisters, her peers, the guys at school all want her to be something different, and see somehow manages to stay true to a version of herself she’s happy with. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s fun, and talented, at one point she even shows her heartbreak and sadness when reading the Shakespeare Sonnet inspired 10 Things I Hate About You.
  4. HER CAR: When I was a teenager, and got my learners, I drove my parent’s Saab. Red is my favourite colour which makes this car amazing in so many ways. But remember that whole thing about how girls aren’t supposed to be into cars? Well, here’s Kat, with this awesome car, that she clearly takes care of, but she seems to do it in this way that doesn’t draw attention. It’s another thing she does for herself.
  5. There’s no such thing as perfect: Because I love Kat, and 10 Things, I’ve read a lot of weird articles and blog posts. There’s one that goes out if it’s way to point out all the bad decisions that Kat makes in the movie (it’s even posted on a feminist website **eye roll**). Kat is not perfect. She makes some shitty choices, but I’d like one person out there to tell me they didn’t make shitty decisions as a teenager. I mean I can think of a pair of pants that were like an optical illusion that I bought at Le Chateau that at one point I wore as a strange bolero jacket. I wish someone had said, “maybe you shouldn’t by those just because they fit and are on sale?” Yes, she smashes Joey Donner’s car, she isn’t a great friend all the time, and she is selfish, but she’s figuring it out, and should we give teen girls permission to make mistakes, to make bad choices and support them on the other side? If anything Kat is a more realistic teen girl than many of those that came before and after her.

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