The Sexism in Pirates of the Caribbean

| | Comments (0)

From "Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as Moral Criticism" by Josephine Donovan in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"Women in literature written by men are for the most part seen as Other, as objects, of interest only insofar as they serve or detract from the goals of the male protagonist" (225).

This statement, is both offensive and sexist in itself.  The way to get someone to side with you is not to hypocritically creating a near catchall for male works.  What I mean is that our author choses to use the words "Women in literature written by men are for the most part seen as Other" which indicates that most works written by men are sexist.  That is a pretty strong claim, and an offensive claim at that.  She could have said that "There are many works by men that portray women as Other."  This would indicate that yes, some men are sexist, but this is a two-way street and some women are sexist, too.  It is only fair to look at both sides of the coin (unless they are the same like Harvey Dent's coin).

In order to prove my point I will look at my favorite movie trilogy ever (that does MERIT a director's cut), Pirates of the Caribbean.  In this work, both male and female characters are stereotyped.  Elizabeth Swann starts out as your typical helpless beautiful woman.  She needs William Turner to save her from a certain death, thus she is the perfect damsel in distress.  As the movies progress, she seems to gain a hint of independence.  She can take better care of herself, saves her and the crew of The Black Pearl by betraying Captain Jack Sparrow's trust and chaining him to the ship, and even becomes one of the pirate lords in the third Pirates movie.  However, at the end of the third movie her independence is compromised.  She is left waiting for her new husband to return to her while she is forced to care for their child without him.  Her end is sad, even miserable if you think about it for she is a single parent kept apart from her husband by a curse.  She has gained nothing and her future is bleak.  All the viewer can do is pity her.

However, if you look at William Turner's character he seems strong, slightly angry, and also beautiful.  He is Elizabeth Swann in male form.  Just as Keira Knightly is eye candy, so is Orlando Bloom.  His character is also your typical male hero.  He goes on adventures to save the woman he would be "willing to die for" and in the end, he dies.  He doesn't die for her but for his family's honor.  Like the new Mrs. Turner, he suffers the loss of being away from his family for long periods of time.  Neither character is new and exciting or unstereotyped.  The writer has written these characters in for both sexes.

I'm sure that there are other movies that do the same thing.  Can you think of any?  How do these movies portray typical male/female stereotypes?


Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.