A Feminist’s Take on Avatar

There is something about the classic fairytale story that really speaks to me. I love the idea of princesses being saved by farm-boys-turned adventurers. It’s classic, romantic and sweet.

But there is a legion of women out there who disagree with me. They say, “Why should the woman have to be rescued? Why can’t she be the hero? It’s so wrong! It’s so sexist.” And so the dreaded word emerges. Sexism. Discrimination based on one’s gender. This group of women are not happy until women are treated just like men, until every damsel in distress learns to save herself. On most levels, I agree with that. Why shouldn’t women fend for themselves?

However, I often ask myself the question, why not? They say, “Why can’t she be the hero,” and I say, why shouldn’t she be the princess? I don’t understand what is so wrong with a girl being saved by a guy, in any fashion.

For instance, if someone gave me a choice between being a married working mom or a married stay-at-home mom, I’d chose the latter. Not because I don’t think women should work, but because that suits my lifestyle perfectly. If someone wants to take care of me, I’m not going to say no. Most writers need a second job anyways, and I’m perfectly fine if my husband is the one working it.

Yet, a life like that in this day and age of starkly independent women may seem complacent and shocking, but I think what really matters, as with most things, is circumstance.

For instance, just because being a stay-at-home mom would be easier for me doesn’t mean I’m not going to maintain my excellent grades, get into my Ivy League school, and change the world. I could just, you know, be doing it from home. Like I said, circumstance.

How is a stay-at-home mom’s job worth any less than the business mom? Who am I to say who works more, who is more modern or independent and who is succumbing to traditional ideals. As our society turns away from the nuclear family, then technically, the working mom is going to become traditional.

I believe that women should do whatever they like and nobody, not men, and especially not other women, should tell them what is right and proper.

And that’s why I was so shocked when I read this story about the women in Avatar. Apparently, it wasn’t good enough that Neytiri was a total bad-A because it was Jake in the end who brought everyone together and saved the day. Pretty much, the author was saying that the script bought in too many traditional female ideals. Um,wait. I don’t think so. Wasn’t it a bunch of men who caused the problem? Wasn’t it Neytiri who saved Jake’s life in the end? Isn’t Neytiri’s mother equal in power with her father?

I understood the author’s point, but I didn’t quite get why she was making it. I mean, I honestly can’t see the harm in having females primarily as supporting characters. Especially since each one of those girls was quite powerful and in my opinion, the epitome of the modern woman.  The story wouldn’t have been the same if it had been a woman in Jake’s place and that’s that.

In the end, how central the female characters are doesn’t matter. It’s who they are that really counts. Don’t people complain just as much when a weak female is the lead, like for instance, Snow White? It’s the essence, the message that women can be just as strong as men, that matters and frankly, it doesn’t matter where it’s coming from– just as long as it’s there.

So women who are reading this, take a moment to think to yourself: is being rescued by a knight (male or female, it doesn’t matter to me) in shining armor really all that bad? Like Neytiri, is being the change in someone’s life such a horrible thing?

Being a modern woman means being equal, not dominant, and we’ve got a pretty good mix of leading ladies and men in the media these days.

Don’t complain; being saved isn’t a bad thing. It’s not taking advantage of opportunities and setting yourself up to be in a position where people constantly need to be saving you that you are undoing years of women activits’ work.

Take charge of your life and give it direction;whether you end up a CEO or a soccer mom, it’s your happiness that matters. Understand that you are a woman and you deserve equal treatment, but don’t let that stop you from finding true love, getting married or having kids.

Being a modern woman isn’t bad, but then again, neither is getting swept off your feet. Just make sure that you know when to plant them firmly on the ground, because that kind of balance, my friends, is how we are to truly find our happily ever afters.

Leave a comment


  1. Betcha brunet doesn’t like avatar.

    • Ri

       /  March 11, 2010

      i wrote your letter. I’ve included some fun stuff. enjoy it. enjoy. obey.

      • lolol.
        Sweet, I can’t wait.
        Have you seen Pencil Face? It’s a little creepy lol.

  2. AGREED! Oh, my goodness, YES!


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