The Rise of the Female Action Figure

By Madeline Brady, Regular Contributor

This past week my mom and I went on a date to see the new movie, Mad Max: Fury Road. I was a little surprised that she was interested in seeing it, but I’d seen several of my friends post about how revved up they were by the lady power in the film so I knew I had to see what the hubbub was about.

And WOW – they were right.

It’s been a while since I’ve cared about an action movie this much (I think the last one was Spy Kids which I’m not sure counts…). Mad Max broke the rules of who is “allowed” to be powerful, useful, and successful in mainstream movies, particularly in the action genre, and featured women as leaders and fighters in ways I’d never seen before. And most importantly was that it wasn’t a big deal for women to be fighters, and it didn’t feel like female warriors were some kind of exception to the roles of women. This stands in opposition to other action films where women who are fighters are special or use their gender to deceive their opponents into thinking they’re weak before revealing their strength.

In the Mad Max world, women fight to stay alive just as anyone else does and with as much fury as men do. There was never hesitation to hit a woman because of her gender, because she posed the same threat as anyone else. I know that seems counterintuitive to a desire to end unnecessary depictions of violence against women in media, but it actually felt empowering to see women as equal players in a fight scene instead of useless figures to be protected. When violence was perpetrated against women it was doled right back and with just as heavy a hand. In this post-apocalyptic world where there are no rules, and; the constructions of gender were destroyed too.


These women, particularly Charlize Theron’s Furiousa, are decisive leaders with grit who make huge sacrifices for the good of their team, and I have to say that it’s exciting to see this on screen. Of course, there are aspects of the film I would have changed, such as the complete lack of character development on all accounts, but it felt like a step in the right direction. I hate that it’s 2015 and we’re just getting introduced to real female action heroes, but hopefully, with this door open, it won’t be long before heroes aren't separated into male or female at all, they’re just admired as heroes.

Let's chat! What female movie roles inspire you? Have you seen Mad Max yet? What did you think? Share with us here!

About Madeline

madeline_brady.jpgMadeline is a soon-to-be recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in English and Theater. She is looking forward to joining the real world, learning how to cook more than cereal, and living abroad after graduation. Her passions include running, music, feminism, and spending way too much time on Instagram.



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