Hollywood's fear of powerful women

Last week I attended the showing of “Mad Max: Fury Road” at Campus Movie Night.
From start to finish, the movie captivated me.  It was an incredible movie because it did something that most movies, hell, most forms of entertainment don’t do. It provided us with strong, empowering female characters that were not there to be sexualized.


Charlize Theron, who plays Furiosa in the film "Mad Max: Fury Road" gives a rare portrayal of a strong women in the media.

I started to think back to other movies or TV shows that showed this initiative. Sadly, not many came to mind.

When I began to look back at the shows and movies I have been watching my entire life, women, for the most part, have been portrayed in stereotypical ways. It’s frustrating to see women not portrayed as they should be.

 Professor of women and gender studies, Lena McQuade, feels frustrated as well. She feels entertainment media doesn’t do a good job of making women feel empowered, as they are often portrayed in a demeaning way.

“I don’t look for empowerment in media,” McQuade said, “I find little strength in media, so I turn to history.” The fact that she has to turn to other sources to find empowered women, is cause for concern.

Very few movies and TV shows break the norm that we are use to. CBS’s “Elementary” does an excellent job providing a strong and memorable lead. The show is about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his detective in training, Joan Watson. They teamup and solve a variety of different crimes together.

Joan Watson, played by Lucy Lui, is a very intelligent and capable character. The producers don’t go out of their way to dress her in provocative ways or make her feel as if she’s invaluable to the show. Quite the opposite, actually, the show doesn’t work without her. Sherlock Holmes needs her, in fact, he acknowledges that he would not be able to solve cases without her expertise.

Another show that is helping change the roles that women typically play is “Orange Is the New Black.” Dr. McQuade pointed out that this show is adding more diversity to the characters that women play.

Very often in movies, we are treated to overly sexualized women that are there to, for the most part, serve a male audience. Take Black Widow from “The Avengers” as an example. Sure, she’s a smart, deadly character, but they dress her up in skin tight spandex to show off her features.
Even worse, they don’t make Black Widow feel as if she’s a valuable part of the team. That’s a problem with a majority of movies and TV shows, where they often make women characters feel more like objects, rather than actual human beings.

Transfer student Alyssa Vargo agrees with this.  “Ultimately, there are those shows where you are constantly seeing women in objectifying ways,” she said.

She feels the way women are portrayed in our entertainment influences how younger girls think about themselves as well as how they view their relationships with men.
I couldn’t agree more with her.

When women start to see how they are portrayed in movies or entertainment in general, they’re going to start thinking that’s normal.

We need more powerful women characters like the ones in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” By the end of this year, we’ll be getting the last installment of “the Hunger Games.” Those movies have given us a strong female lead from the start. Katniss Everdeen is exactly what comes to mind when I think of a strong and empowered character.