The 355: Behind the title lies the legacy

Shelby Seu

The 355, despite having low ratings, was actually an enjoyable movie to watch.  The plot circled around Mace, a female CIA agent, who joins forces with four other female international agents — Chinese, British, German, and Columbian — to retrieve a state of the art hacking device that could intercept any enclosed network and potentially start WWIII, according to Mace.  I first had my doubts during the beginning of the movie because it took quite some time for the plot to fully develop, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of thought, representation, and awareness the movie had brought to the eyes of viewers.

You see, the foundation and meaning behind the movie is in the part that hardly has people talking, and that is the title.  The number 355 was a code name given to George Washington’s first American female spy to be activated during the Revolutionary War and to this day no one knows of her true identity.  When I first learned of her, I had thought that she was one of the most amazing, impressive, inspirational women I had ever come across.  But the more I thought about her and her relationship with the movie, the more I realized the legacy she had started and left so many years ago.

Agent 355 was brought into the Culper Ring — a grapevine of American spies that would

listen and report on a variety of British conversations with accomplices — around 1778 – 1780. This was also a time where females were held accountable for housework and childcare.  They were seen as helpless beings who were in desperate need of saving.  That’s why I admire Agent 355 so much.  She fought at the front lines against the views and expectations society had placed on women.  She recognized her true worth, not through the eyes of a man, but through herself and knew she was meant for greater things than just dishes and cooking.

Her legacy is shown in the movie through the diverse casting and characterization of the female agents.  These women are from all over the globe and specialize in numerous fields such as combat, STEM, and psychology.  Through Agent 355’s example, she proved and continues to inspire the idea that all women, no matter race, nationality, age, background, etc, are the equal counterparts of a man and have the ability to excel farther than the stereotypes society has carved out for them.

Nowadays, some women still feel that they need validation from a man to define themselves as pretty or successful.  There are parents who depict the success of their daughter by her ability to marry a well-off man and have children. In fact, during the movie, enemies of the agents are seen degrading their associates and their ability to perform based on the fact that they are men, who had outnumbered the four agents, and still manage to not only have them escape their grasp, but become physically defeated in the process.  They would say it’s pathetic to lose to a woman and have them be one step ahead.

To me, not only does this upset me, but it shows just how sad society can be when views like these survive after years and years of growing as a community and as a world.  Seeing girls as young as six years be concerned about how they look in the eyes of their male peers, or to see women as old as ninety-five years tell their daughters grand-daughters that they need to know how to cook, clean, and care for their children if they want to marry well. Why can’t we as a society, through men, women, and everyone in between, demolish these views and set new ones to last even longer than these.  Human kind proved that ideals can’t last longer than one’s life span.  So, why not create views that can actually inspire and encourage everyone.

We now even have the resources to do that.  We have social media, movies, and public viewing/streaming platforms at our fingertips.  Agent 355 had none of this, she doesn’t even have a birth name attached to her legacy yet, but she still is a light that guides women of all ages decades after her passing.  She blazed this trail for women with only her actions, what’s stopping us from continuing her legacy when we have things easier.  The movie, 355, is a reminder to everyone of not only the type of woman that onced lived, but the numerous women that we can be.   We have the power to be determined, to change, to inspire, and most of all, to do what we do best and love.