FEMINIST WESTERNS

   This term is often used loosely to refer to any Western in which women dominate, but it applies most directly to Westerns in which gender roles are reversed and the female characters play male roles and the male characters are subservient to the females. An early anomalous classic Western often labeled feminist is Johnny Guitar(1954) in which two women dress and act like men while squaring off for a traditional showdown. The trend for such feminist Westerns naturally accelerated after the women’s movement of the 1960s, and from the late 20th century to the present, certain movies have appeared that have clearly intended to make a feminist statement. The Quick and the Dead (1995), for example, has a woman gunfighter who bests all her male opponents. The Ballad of Little Jo (1993) tells the story of a woman who is disgraced by nice society and forced to live her life disguised as a man. Some films like Bad Girls(1994) and Gang of Roses(2003) revolve around gangs of women gunslingers who band together for strength and protection. In The Missing (2003), a mother tracks across treacherous desert in search of her daughter who had been captured by Apaches. In all these movies, the male characters prove ineffective and weak when confronted by strong women.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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