Written by Rios de la Luz
(CW: Mention of rape, sexual abuse & assault)
I re-watched Kill Bill Vol 1& 2 recently. I love the film and I love the women in the film. They are assholes, they are flawed, they are fierce, they are assassins and they have a deep recognition for revenge. Vernita, O-Ren, Go Go and even Elle hold a special place in my heart, but for this edition of My Feminist Idol, I want to talk about the main badass of the movie, Beatrix Kiddo.
Here is a very short synopsis: In Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, we follow Beatrix Kiddo (aka The Bride aka Black Mamba) on her rampage for revenge. A former assassin of the highest caliber, Beatrix wakes up from a coma looking to get even (Steven) with the people who attempted to take her life four years prior. After finding out she was pregnant, Beatrix decides to leave her life as an assassin behind her. At this point in her life, she was a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DVAS) led by Bill (Alias: Snake Charmer). Beatrix disappeared. Bill presumed her dead. When he finally finds her alive, he reacts with no remorse. He orders the DVAS to murder her fiancée and close friends during a wedding rehearsal in El Paso, Texas. The DVAS brutally beat Beatrix (who is very pregnant) and ensure she cannot fight back. Once she’s on the ground, Bill approaches her and shoots her in the head.
When Beatrix wakes up from her coma, she wakes up screaming and crying because of confusion and emotional pain brought on by Bill. She understands her child has been taken from her (she assumes the child is dead) and the man she once loved betrayed her plus anyone she cared for is gone. On top of that, she has been placed in a hospital where a male nurse (Buck) has been using and selling her comatose body as a vessel for rape. Over the course of four years, she has been reduced to a literal object. Beatrix, who is one of the greatest assassins of all time, is reduced to a vessel for the consumption of deplorable men.
After Beatrix wakes up in the hospital bed, she pretends to be comatose because she hears two voices coming into her room. This is where we first meet Buck. He is only in the film briefly, but we figure out he is a piece of shit right away. Buck is selling Beatrix’s body in front of her but he assumes she’s comatose. Once he exits the room she kills the anonymous man who is on top of her because he has “paid for sex” and proceeds to kill Buck because she is rightfully enraged and has a flashback of him assaulting her.
In the film, we watch as Beatrix takes out her enemies, one by one. She has a kill list (as seen below) and the last person on the list is Bill. Her main goal is to find him and to make sure she is there to see him inhale and exhale his last breath. She gets her wish and after she kills off the DVAS, she defeats Bill (thanks to the Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart Technique).
Bill is representative of emotional manipulation and abuse in relationships. He is the “master” of the DVAS members and he talks to the women in the film as though they are his children. He is understanding of Beatrix’s need for revenge. but once they finally see each other face-to-face, he injects her with truth serum in order to show her “what she really is” (natural-born killer who enjoys taking people’s lives). He acts as though he is teaching Beatrix a lesson. He tells Beatrix he overreacted when he attempted to kill her and he blames her for his assumption of her being dead. Beatrix was close to and loved Bill and we see this in the film. She is conflicted when she finally kills him in order to detach from him in the most literal sense. She mourns for him, but she is finally free of his grasp.
1. O-Ren Ishii (cottonmouth)
2. Vernita Green (copperhead)
3. Budd (side winder)
4. Elle Driver (california mountain snake)
5. Bill (snake charmer)
If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2, do yourself a favor and watch it. The movie is gorgeous, so much fun, it breaks your heart, it makes you want theme songs in the background of your life, it demonstrates the complexity in loving someone and it makes you feel like you are in a comic book
Why is Beatrix my feminist idol? I connect with Beatrix because she is someone who has gone through trauma and survived to tell her story. I connect with her because she reacted in a way which I find cathartic to watch. When someone disregards your autonomy and purposely hurts you or invades you, it creates a bitterness. It creates sadness. It creates a sense of injustice and helplessness and it makes you fucking angry. The thoughts swirling in and out of your brain go from timid to explicitly violent. You wish for terrible things or you wish for peace. It all depends on where your mind is.
As a survivor of sexual abuse and assault, I can tell you this for sure: the bitterness sticks to your bones, the bitterness stays with you when you wake up in the middle of the night because you had a nightmare with one of the perpetrators in it. The bitterness runs through your veins when you hear someone mention one of their names in friendly circumstances because “he’s not a bad guy.” You spit at their names, you scream “fuck you” when sleep paralysis tricks you into thinking one of them is in the room, you fight and fight internally to erase them. You ensure yourself you can erase them from creeping into your thoughts. You are always fighting to mentally kill them away.
In Beatrix’s world, she erases these terrible men (Buck and Bill), not necessarily internally, but she gets to fight back. She gets to see them get hurt even if for a split second like they hurt her. She gets the closure of knowing that those motherfuckers are gone from the spinning earth she stands on.
I look up to Beatrix Kiddo because she is representative of one of the dimensions of being a survivor. The anger. It creates a loneliness and it makes you mourn the exhaustion of being treated like a thing, not a person, out of yourself. The anger passes, like everything else. You go into a strange numb stage. You go back to feeling like yourself. You shed that old skin every seven years and assure yourself you are out of danger. Those hands can no longer reach you. Those hands cannot touch you and any time one of them pops into your mind, you rip them to shreds or punch through their chests and watch them suffer. You watch them bleed. It’s all imagination, right. You had to face them as they were in reality.
My Feminist Idol is a series that deals with powerful women, legends, fictional beings, anyone who I connect with in pop culture in whatever form I am consuming it. I am only one voice and I cannot speak for other survivors of assault and abuse. I write to get it out of my system. I write in solidarity with the people out there who are at different stages of reminding themselves they are so much more than their traumatic experiences.