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This Feminist Netflix Show Raises 7 Social Issues From The 1900s That Are Relevant Today

“What if, suddenly, there were no boys in the world, none at all."

Cover image via Netflix

Remember the little red-headed, quick-tempered, and highly expressive Anne of Green Gables from your childhood bookshelf?

Image via We Heart It

Netflix just released Season 3 of 'Anne With An E', a book-to-screen adaptation of the original Anne, who has been around since our grandparents were kids themselves

Image via Giphy

'Anne With An E' ('AnnE') is a Netflix/CBC screen adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic book series 'Anne of Green Gables', which narrates the fascinating tales of an orphaned girl mistakenly sent to the Cuthberts, who had wanted a boy.

Set in Avonlea of Prince Edward Island, Canada, the screen adaptation draws on history to highlight several social justice issues of the 1900s. This show provides perspective to modern-day viewers on how society once dealt with injustices still very much prevalent in the 21st-century.

Here are some social issues in the show that you may already be familiar with (major spoilers ahead!):

1. Women weren't allowed the same opportunities as men

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'AnnE' is set in a period when society was beginning to struggle with the enduring concept that women simply belong in the kitchen. Back then, few women had the freedom to marry for love. If you were rich, you would be traded off to a richer family for your dowry... and you couldn't even say NO WAY!

Each season of 'AnnE' portrays the struggles women faced just to gain the opportunities that are taken for granted today. Be it convincing the town that a female school teacher is just as good as a man, or disputing the belief that women shouldn't 'meddle' in financial affairs, the show is pleasantly pro-feminist, with fans rooting for their favourite characters as they stand up for what they believe in.

2. Victims of sexual harassment were silenced

A female character getting away from her sexual harasser.

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In Season 3, one of Anne's classmates is sexually harrassed... by her intended (a.k.a. the man her parents had arranged for her to marry). Despite this scandal, her parents urge her to proceed with the marriage as she is now 'trash'.

The girl is silenced, prevented from speaking out against someone who has violated her body. Why? Because (remember) women back then were expected to look pretty, cook, clean, raise children, and still look pretty, all the while under the heavy thumb of their husbands.

3. There was no freedom of the press

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Outraged at the lack of justice for women, Anne takes it upon herself to write an article for her school newspaper titled 'What is fair?', arguing for gender equality with her notoriously heated flair. Needless to say, it sparks great uproar among the Avonlea folks... and became the TEA of the society.

The consequences? The Town Hall board fired Anne and censored their publication. In a moment of unity, Anne and her classmates hold an organized protest in front of the council to be allowed freedom of speech. Nevertheless, their protest results in their school being burnt to ashes, demonstrating that those who stand for equality are easily silenced.

4. The Queer community were struggling for acceptance

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Season 2 of 'AnnE' explores gendered expression and sexuality, which the 1900s books never dared venture into.

In the series, Aunt Josephine and her friend Gertrude turn out to be life partners, and their love and determination to be together despite society's expectations inspire Cole, a closeted character, to find the courage to embrace his difference. Through Anne's kindness and sympathetic understanding, he finally comes to terms with his sexuality and loves himself despite his otherness. 

5. Racial segregation was appaling

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'AnnE' acknowledges the unspeakable history of slavery by realistically depicting its lasting trauma on the Blacks, who now face racial segregation and discrimination. Labelled inferior, denied equal privileges, and even dehumanized, the Blacks live in the Bog/slums, a miserable and filthy place located far away from the Whites.

Although 'AnnE' paints a bright picture by emphasising the storyline of a former slave's freedom, this storyline does not end in rainbows and sunshine for the Black community as a whole, as the trauma of slavery and the mistreatment of 'people of colour' still prevail.

6. The Aboriginal people were feared as savages

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At the start of Season 3, we are introduced to Ka'kwet and her family, a Mi'kmaq nation who live at the outskirts of Avonlea. Their presence attracts fear and suspicion from the locals, who are intimidated by them. 

The government soon ordains a law that requires Aboriginal children to be educated. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a brutal plan to turn them into civilized mimics of the Whites... just not quite.

Ka'kwet is stolen from her family, given a 'proper' name, and is forcefully stripped of her true heritage in her new 'school'. Sadly, the cruel mistreatment of the Aboriginals still persists today, and 'AnnE' serves as an eye-opener to the wrongs they've had to suffer.

7. The show portrays the fight to become a progressive and equal society

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Despite the backward thinking and discrimination in Avonlea, the show advances positively, depicting the progression of a society determined to step into the modern world and embrace change. Slowly but surely, the community must come to accept each others' differences and move towards a better future.

Although 'AnnE' is one of the most eye-opening and wholesome shows on Netflix, the series will be discontinued from further seasons

This is not the first time 'Anne With An E' has been cancelled. Previously, Netflix announced the release of Season 2 after allegedly discontinuing it.

Fans all over the world have taken to social media with the hashtag #renewannewithane, arguing that "Anne would have wanted us to fight". What's more, an online petition has currently gained over 122,000 signatures in support of this protest.

Meanwhile, you can follow Anne as she transits into womanhood by catching the full show on Netflix. Watch the trailer for Season 3 below if you haven't already:

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