Tough girl or sidechick?

Apr 21, 2010

These have the potential to influence a young viewing audience and their ideas about gender and violence. Her study is published in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

Film theorists believe that the action character Lt. Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in the movie Alien in 1979, paved the way for a new type of female representation in American popular culture. It is now common to see female action characters take part in hand-to-hand combat, wield swords, shoot machine guns, and use high-tech weaponry to destroy both people and property - behaviors once exclusive to male action heroes.

Through the analysis of female characters in American action films, Katy Gilpatric's study explores the portrayal of female heroines to see if it is really transcending traditional roles, or rather, re-articulating and representing gender stereotypes in a new guise. She looked at the most popular, highest grossing action films (a total of 112) released between 1991 and 2005 featuring violent female action characters with a focus on gender stereotypes, demographics and quantity and type of violence.

Over 58% of violent female characters were portrayed in a submissive role to the male hero in the film, and 42% were romantically involved with him. The average violent female character was young, white, highly educated and unmarried. These women engaged in masculine types of violence (fought against males and strangers most of the time, often used weapons and caused high levels of destruction), yet retained feminine stereotypes due to their submissive role and romantic involvement with the dominant male hero character.

Katy Gilpatric concludes: "The debate continues as to whether the few action heroines that we are familiar with, such as Sarah Connor and Lara Croft, have broken down gender barriers in action films. This research provides evidence that the majority of female action characters shown in American cinema are not images of empowerment; they do not draw upon their femininity as a source of power, and they are not a kind of 'post-gender woman' operating outside the boundaries of traditional gender restrictions. Instead, "they operate inside highly socially constructed gender norms, rely on the strength and guidance of a dominant male action character, and end up re-articulating ."

Explore further: Can new understanding avert tragedy?

More information: Gilpatric K (2010). Violent female action characters in contemporary American cinema. Sex Roles, DOI:10.1007/s11199-010-9757-7

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Temple
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
These women engaged in masculine types of violence (fought against males and strangers most of the time, often used weapons and caused high levels of destruction)

I'm sorry, why exactly are those 'masculine types of violence'? How can violence be gender-typed? What would 'feminine type violence' be?

This speaks volumes as to the level of slant brought into this study.
dan42day
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
The vast majority of violent acts are perpetrated by males, according to crime statistics. By "empowering" females in this area we could nearly double the violence in our society! Keep up the good work!
ArtflDgr
not rated yet Apr 21, 2010
funny
of course it wont be meaningful, as they dont notice that the kick ass women, cant be hit by most of the men.

so unlike a fight between hero and other men, its just a smack down in god mode, with a bit of sweat and maybe a scratch to energize the caracter to be more violent.

so the portrayal of the characters are cartoons... unlike male heroes which are seen more realiztic

meanwhile, those girls that attempt this kind of thing, usually end up on the wrong side of a situation with a person who has more weight, more muscle, thicker bones, more air capacity, faster movement, and even subtle things like bones being tuned for the purpose.

feminism has discovered that the real woman inside women is a man.

that they hate women and what women are so much, that they cant even tolerate the existence of women, and can only tolerate men and mini-men

Caliban
not rated yet Apr 21, 2010
I wonder how she would analyze a character like the teen-age girl portrayed by Ellen Page in "Hard Candy"? Or even "Whip It"? Crikey!

ormondotvos
not rated yet Apr 21, 2010
There's a rumour that women are different than men. Never too late to learn this important distinction...
Shootist
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2010
The vast majority of violent acts are perpetrated by males, according to crime statistics. By "empowering" females in this area we could nearly double the violence in our society! Keep up the good work!


"An armed society is a polite society" - Robert A. Heinlein
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (4) Apr 22, 2010
"An armed society is a polite society" - Robert A. Heinlein
That would explain Iraq and Afghanistan...

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