Further to some objections I’ve had to my description of Mad Max: Fury Road as having reasonably good gender politics. Trigger and Spoilers, obviously.
What Mad Max: Fury Road does – with its depiction of Furiosa – is to refuse to make violence the exclusive province of men, or to make men the only ones who are any good at it. (Not unprecedented – but quite good.) Furiosa gets to do all the trad-masculine things that Max does. She’s just as good at them as him. This, apparently, is a big problem for those kinds of insecure, reactionary misogynitwits who drivel on about how women are weaker than men. According to such douchenozzles, this is just a scientific fact, and it’s not a man’s fault if he just repeats the incontrovertible findings of Science. In actuality, of course, what such bigoted ninnies are actually doing is regurgitating some half-digested sociobiologistic bullshit. They then accuse feminists (who control Hollywood in their ideologically distorted, bass-ackwards bizzaro world) of playing a dirty, emasculating trick and oppressing men by spreading the vicious civilisation-eroding lie that not all women need a man to open jars for them.
The thing is, there is a rational kernal to some of these complaints (wait). The complaint comes as a response to a genuine threat (I said wait). The genuine threat which is correctly perceived by the bawling manbabies is a threat to their privilege. You see, when Furiosa beats up some man just as well as Max can (including Max himself), or shoots a gun just as well as Max can, or drives a car just as well as Max can, what is being done is that these traditionally masculine behaviours are being completely detached from masculinity. And what is being detached from masculinity is violence. So the threat to male privilege is about as primal as you can get: male privilege is threatened with losing its monopoly on violence. Given that violence, in one form or another, is at the root of how all systems of oppression function, this could hardly be more threatening (at least within the confines of a mainstream popular movie).
This isn’t some submerged theme in the film that you have to hunt about for. It’s front and centre. The violence Furiosa excels at it specifically and explicitly a violent response to a patriarchy which itself openly functions through violence. Most obviously, there is the implied violence of rape (and kudos to the film for not directly and unnecessarily showing sexual violence). But there is also the structural violence. The system is literally patriarchal, in that Imortan Joe’s fertility seems to be inextricably linked to his rulership – either materially or ideologically, or perhaps both. He rules partly through his family. It is stated that several members of his ruling elite – and his Imperators (bosses-cum-generals) – are members of his family. Brothers, etc. Several are sons. They all seem ‘disabled’ in some way. One seems unable to breathe without a mask and oxygen tanks. …