Dear Hollywood, Stop Making Women Fight Sexily In Action Movies

Dear Hollywood, Stop Making Women Fight Sexily In Action Movies

And while we're at it, the catsuits are unjustified too.

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Dear Hollywood,

You have a problem.

Well, more than one. But there's one, in particular, I want to address. Hollywood, your objectification of women in action movies is relentless. And we're sick of it.

Hollywood, you seem to think that everything about a female action hero has to be sexy, scantily-clad, lithe, attractive to men in some way. The few female characters that you do put in action movies don't get the kind of action sequences the male characters do. You seem to think that a woman is unacceptable unless she can be viewed as attractive at every single point of the movie.

Let's start with the basics. Hollywood, you think that only thin, usually white, conventionally attractive actresses deserve to be in action movies. Granted, the people who get in movies tend to be leaps and bounds above average attractiveness but compare the diversity of physical attractiveness for men versus women.

For example, the typical "Mission: Impossible" stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. Cruise is certainly above average-looking, but he is also 56 and looks it. Alongside Cruise, there may be one more above-average looking man (maybe Jeremy Renner), and two or three more male sidekicks who look more like regular people.

Meanwhile, Cruise's female co-stars will be decades his junior. Rebecca Ferguson of the "Fallout" and "Rogue Nation" installments of the franchise is only 35; Vanessa Kirby of "Fallout" is 30, and Michelle Monaghan, who plays his wife, is 42.

They are also more visibly perfect, despite many of their characters having led lives similar to Hunt's. Their foreheads are free from wrinkles, their skin (which we see much of; every movie in the series finds its excuses) is without scars.

Even though their characters tend to get more empowered as the "Mission: Impossible" franchise continues, they're never free from the burden of being constantly beautiful.


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Not only are female action heroes all ridiculously beautiful, but they're also stuffed into absurd outfits. Jessica Chastain has criticized the choice to put female heroes into catsuits, saying: "If you look at films like Elektra and Aeonflux, the problem that studios have is that they try to make kick-ass women very sexualized. They have to be in some catsuit."

Anybody who's ever done cosplay can tell you that spandex and leather are very difficult to move it, so let's squash the argument of purpose right there. Even if catsuits were easy to move in, you think any woman would wear a push-up bra and deep v-neck to a fight?

Beyond that, female action heroes even have to fight in a way that'll still be attractive to men. Their fighting styles are almost always focused on flexibility and agility.

Their fight choreography is highly stylized, so that, above all, they'll look sleek, smooth, effortless without being too strong, someone who can hold her own in a fight almost easily--unless the male hero needs to remind us that he's the hero by rescuing her or the mission in some way. Female action heroes have long, lightly curled hair that they'll leave down during fights, because it looks cooler, or maybe just prettier.


There are exceptions to these tropes, of course, and they prove that any sort of reasoning behind overly sexualized female action heroes has no basis. Think of Furiosa, who was the most skilled, savage fighter in "Mad Max: Fury Road." She got dirty, oily, bloody, bruised, and in her fight scenes, she actually looked like she was fighting for her life.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" grossed $378,858,340 worldwide, received a 97% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning six. Other less-sexualized female action heroes include Katniss Everdeen and Rita Vrataski ("Edge of Tomorrow"), although these characters are still played by conventionally attractive women (and Katniss was whitewashed).

Hollywood, enough is enough. Women comprise 52% of moviegoers, and we're sick of watching action movies where you treat the female characters like their main purpose is to be looked at.

Sincerely,

One of many action-movie fans who believes that women are people.

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