‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Feminism Upsets Men’s Rights Activists, and That’s a Good Thing
Men’s Rights Activists (aka MRAs) are a quaint, primitive little group, one that preaches insidious ideals about oppressing women and rejecting social justice. Their latest crusade targets Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller’s long-awaited new installment in his beloved Mad Max franchise. It appears that the MRAs have fallen victim to a bait and switch: this film isn’t the explosive action flick they were promised (but it is); instead, it’s a movie with a feminist propaganda.
I’m not going to link to the article here, and instead will offer a Do Not Link URL to this “Hot Take” on the oppressive, suffocating feminism of Mad Max: Fury Road. In it, the author expresses disgust at the way Charlize Theron’s badass Imperator Furiosa “barks orders” at Tom Hardy’s Max, and rails against the feminism that’s been infiltrating his precious movies:
The real issue is not whether feminism has infiltrated and co-opted Hollywood, ruining nearly every potentially-good action flick with a forced female character or an unnecessary romance sub-plot to eek out that extra 3 million in female attendees.
And the real issue is not whether Hollywood has the audacity to remove the name sake of a movie franchise called MAD FREAKING MAX, and replace it with an impossible female character in an effort to kowtow to feminism.
He also goes on to lament that men are being tricked into seeing Mad Max: Fury Road based on all those brilliant trailers with awesome fire tornadoes and crazy Frankenstein cars, blasting the finished product as a “piece of American culture ruined and rewritten right in front of their very eyes.” Ahem, it’s actually Australian culture, but I guess MRAs think every country they view as predominantly white must be American.
The truth is this: Mad Max: Fury Road is indeed a feminist piece. Similar to last year’s Edge of Tomorrow, George Miller’s post-apocalyptic action masterpiece sells audiences on the promise of Tom Hardy as Mad Max, only to discover that this is — mostly —Theron’s film. And it’s not just Theron’s film; this movie belongs to all the women of Fury Road, women who are oppressed by a predominantly white male culture. The nefarious Immortan Joe keeps a harem of wives, carefully selected based on their attractiveness, their only purpose to breed new heirs who will become soldiers. Immortan also keeps a stable of women whose only purpose in life is lactating and providing nourishment for Immortan’s chosen flock of men.
But Furiosa is different, and one can read between the sparsely spoken lines to ascertain that she was not a woman who could be oppressed or held captive by her master, so he granted her the position of a high-ranking (highest ranking?) warrior, leading an army of men. She’s also not treated as a romantic interest, and Max immediately recognizes her as an equal. Rather than fall in love, the pair develop a mutual respect for one another as they fight for survival and justice in an regressive, animalistic world that knows only despair.
Furiosa isn’t the only feminist icon in the film, which also features a small tribe of older women who have made a rugged, isolated life for themselves in the wasteland — women with guns, motorcycles, and the knowledge of cultivating and protecting life. These women use themselves as bait — with a naked volunteer held captive to determine the intentions of encroaching men, good or bad. These women fend for themselves, and they further highlight a world in which men have grown to fear the power, resilience and survival instincts of women.
Immortan Joe keeps his population underfed and malnourished to prevent an uprising; he keeps his breeders on lockdown and sheltered from the world; he keeps his stable of lactating women fattened up so they cannot escape; he keeps Furiosa’s aggression in check by giving her a superior role in his military. Immortan’s aggressive dominance is a projection of his insecurity and fear, as all negative traits often are.
The women of Fury Road are uncompromising, brave and fiercely committed to survival — these women know loss, desperation and unfairness more than any other man. These women have had to fight twice as hard as men in a world that always viewed them as weaker and lesser-than, and views them in this way twice as much following the apocalypse.
MRAs can complain and whine about the injustice of strong women sticking our story business in their precious action films all they want. If movies like Mad Max: Fury Road are ruining their lives and giving them a case of the hurt butts, then we’re clearly making steps in the right direction. And if Mad Max: Fury Road is feminist propaganda, then it’s the most gloriously insane, ass-kicking and face-melting feminist propaganda I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing.