Empowerment In Thelma And Louise

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Thelma and Louise, released in 1991, was a female buddy motion picture which marked the evolution from a traditionally male genre to the appearance of female road movies, presenting women as the only protagonists. Casting Susan Sarandon as Louise and Geena Davis as Thelma, the movie not only became a commercial success, it also sparked criticism on its stereotypical portrayal of women and men and discussion on feminism embedded in the film. While some has been long stated that Thelma and Louise is merely a gendered rebellion though violence and crimes, this essay nevertheless argue the film had brought a new sight to women’s life, which indeed empower women with acceleration of gender liberation and challenge of female stereotypes in the patriarchal…show more content…
With the widespread usage of the word ‘empowerment’, it is becoming increasingly confusing to evaluate what it actually entails and the measurement of empowerment is still debatable. Nanette Page and Cheryl E. Czuba, researchers on human empowerment, once stated that the meaning of the term ‘empowerment’ is often assumed rather than explained or defined. (Page & Czuba 1999) While the word is literally rooted with the idea of ‘power’, empowerment in this essay nevertheless represents a multi-dimensional social process that gives rise of economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strengthen of individuals and communities. Addressing the issues of women empowerment in Thelma and Louise, this essay adopts the five components defined by the United Nation: woman’s sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to access to opportunities and recourses; their right to have the power to control their own lives and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order. (UN…show more content…
The film starts off having two ordinary American women, Thelma and Louise set off for a two-day vacation. In the early scenes of the film in which Thelma and Louise met each other and stopped for a drink at a roadhouse, both Thelma and Louise presented feminine image of wearing dress and heavy makeup. While Louise appealed less dressed-up – having her blouse buttoned to the top and T-shirt loose fitting; Thelma, in contrast, revealed the most compelling feminine look of an American woman – wearing beautiful hiked dress revealing her thighs and sexuality. The film comes to its trigger that Thelma was nearly raped by a man at the parking lot of the roadhouse. As described in Mulvey's work, women are always sexually objectified and can be subjected to what she refers to as the ‘male gaze’. (Mulvey 1998) The representation of the image of the two women, Thelma in particular, was framed as being the sex objects of man with the highlights of the traditional belief of beauty they need to have in the visual stimuli of male gaze. However, as the film progresses, the two characters sharply changed their images. With jeans, cowboy hat, and modified T-shirt, biker tank top, the women are more conscious of being objectified and actively prevent being viewed as erotic objects by concealing their sensuality. Their ‘cowboy’ look not only presents them with stronger and more active image, but also
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