21 Times Friends Was Surprisingly Feminist

When you think of feminist pop culture, Friends isn't exactly top of the list. Maybe we're all just too bedazzled by how Rachel's hair was so perfect all the time. Or, maybe we were too preoccupied with the love triangles, Chandler's jokes, and the sense of urgency with which one should pivot. Upon re-watching — which we've been known to do every couple of days — we found a new take on the '90s sitcom. In the reruns we've discovered many a moment of female empowerment. It's not just from the ladies, either. The men, too, have their girl-power scenes. To celebrate the show's 20th anniversary, we went back and found a heap of examples to show just what we're talking about.
Ahead, 20 times Friends got their feminist on.
Rachel Cuts Up Her Credit Cards
Rachel’s decided she’s no longer a shoe. She’s no longer going to rely on her father’s money, and she’s got herself a fancy waitressing job at the Central Perk. Not only is this a huge moment of financial independence for Rachel, but she’s surrounded by the five people who will support her through her new adventure. It’s no wonder she later refers to them as her magic beans. CUT! CUT! CUT!
Monica Schools Chandler In The Art Of The Female Orgasm
It’s not Chandler’s fault he’s poorly versed in the art of the female orgasm. But, he’s taking the initiative to learn the ins and outs of giving his girlfriend the feel-goods anyway. Monica breaks it down for him, here. Remember: There are seven (SEVEN!) erogenous zones. The important thing is to take your time and mix ‘em up.
Phoebe, Rachel, & Monica Burn The Relics Of Relationships Past
Phoebe leads the women in a Valentine’s Day cleansing ceremony. Each puts a memento of an ex-boyfriend into the fire, thus freeing themselves of the emotional ties to previous lovers. It’s a venerable ladies’ freedom fest, and they finish feeling ready to move on to bigger and better things.
You Don't Need A Wedding For A Wedding Dress
After a near-split with JOSHWA, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe decide they don’t need to be engaged to wear a wedding dress. In fact, it’s just fine if they want to sit around and drink a beer in a dress that just so happens to be fancy and white.
Phoebe Sends David To Minsk
She puts her love for David aside and encourages him to go to Minsk for his job. Though it pains her to do it, she’s the strong one for the both of them and sends him away.
Monica (Tries To) Propose To Chandler
In a total Sadie Hawkins move, Monica takes her commitment to Chandler into her own hands. Or, at least she tries. After she gets down on one knee, Chandler joins her on the floor where they get engaged to each other.
Phoebe Gives $1,000 & A Football Phone To A Homeless Woman
Phoebe feels uncomfortable keeping the money she received as an apology from her bank. So, she gives it to Lizzie, a homeless woman in the neighbourhood. Plus, Lizzie got a sweet football phone.
Ross Walks Carol Down The Aisle
It couldn’t have been easy for Ross to escort Carol down the aisle when she marries Susan. But, he stepped in when Carol’s father refused to attend the ceremony. “You did a good thing today,” Susan tells him. The act ultimately solidifies Ross and Susan’s relationship and shows his encouragement for her and Carol’s life together.
Monica & Rachel Fight Over The Last Condom
Richard and Ross stand by helplessly as they listen to roommates Monica and Rachel bargain over the last condom in the apartment, a.k.a. who gets to have sex that night. Rachel wins, and Monica tells Richard, “They’re doing it tonight. We can do it tomorrow.”
Ross Drinks The Breast Milk
Carol scolds Ross for calling breast milk “gross.” When he learns Susan’s tasted it, he feels the need to take a stand and drink some himself. Granted, he has to chase it with Oreos.
Rachel Realizes Ross Is Stealing Her Wind
“Have you ever allowed a lightning-bearer to take your wind?” is just one of the questions on the “Goddess Quiz” in Be Your Own Wind-Keeper, a female-empowerment book that makes Rachel question how equal her relationship with Ross really is.
Phoebe Becomes A Surrogate Mother
When Frank and Alice have fertility trouble, Phoebe agrees to be a surrogate for them. It’s a selfless act she does for her brother and his wife.
Looking At Playboy Through The Female POV
“See now, I would date this girl. She’s cute, she’s outdoorsy, and she knows how to build a fire...I mean, that’s gotta come in handy.”
Rachel Decides To Have The Baby
When Rachel accidentally gets pregnant after sleeping with Ross, she decides to have the baby regardless of whether or not the father will be involved.
Phoebe Teaches Rachel To Run Free
Who cares if people are staring or judging? It’s just for one second, and then you’re gone! But, lookout for the horse.
The Manny
Ross can’t handle a sensitive male nanny — he even goes so far as to directly question Sandy’s sexuality to his face. Rachel’s look of utter mortification says it all: Ross is being ridiculously close-minded and old-fashioned, and Sandy’s hired.
Rachel Goes Back To Work After Emma Is Born
Rachel always planned to return to Ralph Lauren after having Emma, but when Gavin Mitchell threatens to replace her, Rachel’s competitive nature kicks in. She cuts her maternity leave two weeks short and kicks “Super Gavin” out of her office.
Joey Supports His Sister
When Joey’s sister Dina accidentally gets pregnant, he hunts down the father and tries to force them to get married. Rachel and Dina eventually convince Joey that his sister is strong enough to raise the baby on her own, and he agrees to be a helpful, supportive uncle.
Monica Tells Her Parents About Richard
Telling your parents that you’re dating their best friend is never an easy conversation to have. It’s even harder for Monica, whose relationship track record has left her parents more than skeptical of the fact that she’s in a healthy one. Little Harmonica finally manages to stand up to her judgmental folks, though, and demonstrate to them that she’s an adult who can make her own smart decisions.
Rachel’s Burning Loins
“There’s nothing wrong with a woman enjoying a little erotica,” Rachel insists to Joey after he discovers her “dirty book” about Zelda and the chimney sweep. “It’s just a healthy expression of female sexuality.”
Phoebe's Pick-Up Game
Street-smart, savvy Phoebe never shied away from going after what she wanted. Her pick-up lines were strong — especially when someone set her up for an easy slam dunk. Get it, Phoebs.

More from Movies

R29 Original Series