Hollywood's 5 Saddest Attempts at Feminism

#2. Catwoman (Batman Returns)

Selina Kyle is a frumpy personal assistant to Batman villain Christopher Walken. She has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and her boss kindly shoves her out a window for her troubles. Fortunately, she is resuscitated by a group of stray cats in an alley.

At this stage, Selina is left with only one option: dress in a shiny black leather cat suit and become a super villain. Well, we suppose calling the cops or going to an emergency room were also options, but who are we to judge?

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

In this film, Catwoman is a gorgeous yet cunning adversary for Batman. The character also isn't portrayed as outright evil, so much as she just abides by her own complex moral code. She eventually defeats her evil boss, who made demeaning comments about her earlier in the film.

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

"I am Catwoman. Hear me roar."

The Problem:

Catwoman is a prime example of the femme fatale (literally "dangerous woman") stock character. It's an archetype that goes way back to probably the first male to ever write a story right after a nasty breakup.

You can see the mentality of the guy writing the femme fatale, since he has the character basically using sex as a weapon against men. Sharon Stone in Basic instinct is probably the most gratuitous example, but maybe the most famous is Cleopatra who, regardless of what actually happened, has always been fictionalized as having seduced the world with the sheer force of her boobies.

So basically the femme fatale was created by insecure males to represent the dangers of unrestrained female sexuality. In these stories she's always a corrupting influence for the male hero and is always eventually punished for it, usually with a violent death.

And, sure enough, the last we see of Catwoman is her "dying" from kissing Christopher Walken with a goddamned taser in her mouth. If that's not some kind of symbolism for herpes then we don't know what is.

#1. Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Elizabeth (Keira Knightley's character) Swan is introduced in the first movie as the governor's daughter who has a fascination with pirates and effeminate blacksmiths. Over the course of the franchise, she learns to fight, shoot, go to war, lead armies and give boring speeches.

Her and her one true love, Will (Orlando Bloom), endure many obstacles in their relationship and are rewarded when they are finally united in a thirty second Easter egg after the closing credits of the final movie.

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

Elizabeth is intelligent and resourceful, and knows a lot about pirates. In between movies Will teaches her to fight and she performs marginally well against opponents with no names or dialogue.

She gets elected Pirate King and captains her own ship. Also, every leading man in the series falls in love with her at some point, leaving her the epicenter of a nautically themed love quadrangle.

She's everything a girl should aspire to, right?

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

Elizabeth gives a rousing speech about freedom from oppression, to a bunch of rapists, killers and thieves. She then leads her rag tag fugitive fleet into battle against the evil forces of progress who are trying to stop them from raping, killing and thieving. You go, girl!

The Problem:

Tokenism. She's the female pirate version of the crusty black sergeant that threatens to pull the white protagonists off the case in a buddy cop flick. Elizabeth exists for the producers to point to and say "Look how enlightened we are!"

Elizabeth is the only woman in the series who isn't a gossipy chamber maid, nameless whore or crazy sea goddess. Why do all the boys want a piece of her sweet, boobless ass? Because she's literally the only woman available. It's either her or one of the members of the film's catering staff.

"It's either her or you, Bloom."

Not to mention that she only gets command of a ship because Chow Yun Fat mistakes her for the crazy sea goddess, and she only becomes Pirate King (And why not the Pirate Queen while we're at it?) due to some elaborate double crossing scheme by Jack Sparrow, and not any actual qualifications. She just sort of lucks her way into everything.

But the final straw is the Easter egg ending. After the day is saved and the pirates have won the freedom to rape and pillage across the seven seas, Elizabeth and Will are married, but must endure a long separation due to a curse.

No problem. We don't see exactly what she does for ten years, but from what we see after the closing credits, we can safely assume it was moping around waiting for Will to return and popping out his children.

Oh, Hollywood. You came so close on this one.

Jennifer is the chair of JordanCon, the first convention for fans of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

For more feminism, check out the boob-aliciousThe 6 Most Gratuitously Cleavaged Women on TV or once again feel the wrath of our moral outrage in The 9 Most Racist Disney Character.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!