Furiosa and femdom

** Spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road **

I’m not a Mad Max fan. The main reason I wanted to see Fury Road was because of the amusing outrage of MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists). Any movie that outrages some dudes for being ‘feminist propoganda’ has to be worth seeing, right?

I’m not going to review the movie (loved it!) or talk about whether it’s feminist or not (strong female characters, aw yeah!). What I want to talk about is how moments in it reflect exactly what I want to see in stories showing female dominance. I’m not pretending it’s a femdom movie, but fuck if there aren’t some broad themes and, in particular, some moments out of which someone could develop an entire F/m story.

In this movie there are moments where Max (Tom Hardy) follows simply because Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads, and neither of them question it or make a big deal of it. It’s those moments that most beautifully illustrate the nature of their relationship and fire my imagination.

There’s a scene where they are watching a pursuing truck approaching in the dark. They have only a few bullets left for their scope-rifle. Furiosa watches Max as he kneels by their ‘war rig’ and takes 2 shots. He misses both times. She goes over and kneels behind him. He glances over his shoulder. Neither of them say anything. He just passes the gun behind him to give it to her. She takes it, rests it on his shoulder.

“Don’t move,” she says*.

She takes the shot. Hits the vehicle.

Why do I love that so much?

Because they both know she’s better than him. He thinks he can do it, he gives it his best shot, but when push comes to shove, he recognises that she’s better than him and he doesn’t question it. She doesn’t have to shout about it or say anything. They both just know and they behave accordingly.

It fits with what I said recently to a writerly friend about how I want to see a depiction of a femdom relationship: they are both badasses, she’s just MORE of one. Those are the kinds of interactions that show that. Max doesn’t have to diminish himself or somehow be ‘less than’ to recognise it. Nor does he have some huge struggle with it (‘waaah, she’s better than me… MY MANHOOD IS SHRINKING’ *commence alpha chest beating waves of insecurity*).

The other (possibly more pivotal, but not as powerfully romantic (yes, I called it romantic!)) moment is when she stops their truck in a valley and says “I need you” to Max. She tells him she needs him to drive, shows him the kill switch for the engine, and gives him the instruction to go when she says go, then she steps out of the vehicle to deal with a motorcycle gang. And he just does what she says and neither of them question whether he will or not: He will.

And I absolutely ADORE that I see those moments in this movie. Love and adore it.

And the sad thing is that I love and adore it so much because we NEVER see this kind of thing portrayed anywhere ever.

theron fury road

And Theron: man, she’s so fucking good.

And while she is (of course) heart-stoppingly beautiful, that’s not at all the POINT (no tits, no arse, no coy sex appeal, no revealing outfits, and she has a physical disability: I could faint from pleasure), so when I say to my writerly friend “don’t talk to me about how flawlessly beautiful the femdom character is and don’t make THAT where her power comes from”, THAT’S what I mean. If Furiosa were a femdom character in a book she’d have that crew cut, that mechanical arm, that practical outfit, the warrior grease on her face, she’s strong, she’s determined, she sweats, she gets dirty, she’s smart, she’s fearless, she kicks arse, and she’s taking no shit, and THAT would be why some amazing man would kneel for her.

Also, in case you are interested in this kind of thing, Max gets captured, tied up, force-tattooed, caged, put in an iron mask, and strapped to the front of a war boy’s souped-up car as an object to be used.

*happy sigh*

___

* Edited to add: Someone just informed me that she doesn’t say ‘Don’t move’, she says ‘Don’t breathe’. Oh. My. God. LOVE. *swoon*

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46 Comments

  1. Hi Ferns:

    The new Mad Max is a must see for me. I admit I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about it because I adored “Road Warrior” and didn’t think they could improve on the original. Then my son saw it and told me he thought it was great! He is the harshest film critic I know so if he likes it the new Mad Max it must be good! If the film also has strong female characters and a femdom theme I will check it out ASAP! Many thanks for the review! :)

    Best

    hmp

    1. *smile* I agree with your son.

      If you actually LIKE the Mad Max type of movie, you will enjoy it even more.

      I’m sure I read Miller talking about how he had all the cars built (150 of them I think) and how all the stunts are real because ‘CGI is bullshit’ *laugh*.

      Ferns

  2. Ahhh I was hoping you’d write something about the femdom feel od this movie when you were talking about it on Twitter! My friend and I can’t get over it and have been thinking a lot of the same things. Just the way be obeys without questioning and excepts her badassery is not only extremely refreshing but also fits perfectly with the world George Miller created, and that makes my movie geek side very happy~

    These people aren’t okay, they’re not typical heroes, the live in a desert wasteland for godsake, so I was really glad there was none of that ‘boohoo a /girl/ is better than me!’ Not only would it have been annoying, but it wouldn’t have been practical. No time for that on the Fury Road.

    Also, the moment when Max saving Furi was big for me. That’s the most he talks in the whole movie, for one, but the /best part/ was when he just gives his blood without question. His blood, being a universal donor, is the main reason he was objectified in the first place, but he doesn’t even take a moment to think about it.

    Basically I loved this movie. (This got a little out if hand. *sheepish face*)

    – Riley

    1. *smile* Not out of hand at all! Your enthusiasm is lovely and I’m with you 100%.

      Interesting about the blood-giving. You are right of course. I guess for me her quietly establishing authority and him accepting it was MUCH bigger than how it worked after they were ‘bonded by battle’ if you know what I mean.

      I think this is one of those movies that people will dissect in a hundred different ways and each will get something out of it. I love that.

      Ferns

  3. Does it make me a bad feminist for not noticing the feminist themes, or a good feminist for finding it all perfectly natural or normal?

    Either way I thought the film was mixed feminist (ladies in the desert surviving perfectly well, some of the moments you mentioned above) and decidedly not feminist (pretty girls kept as objects, women being farmed for their milk). Both fine with me, this being fantasy.

    Now that you’ve pointed out all those feminist themes this film just became hotter for a whole new set of reasons. Makes me want to go and strap myself to the front of a car.

    O

    1. “Does it make me a bad feminist for not noticing the feminist themes, or a good feminist for finding it all perfectly natural or normal?”

      Heh. I’m going with ‘good’ :).

      “Either way I thought the film was mixed feminist (ladies in the desert surviving perfectly well, some of the moments you mentioned above) and decidedly not feminist (pretty girls kept as objects, women being farmed for their milk).”

      I think to the MRAs, ‘feminist’ = ‘our guy movie taken over by a girl!’, but if we take a broader view, Immortan Joe and his war boys represent the patriarchy and he’s running a despotic capitalistic system where women are breeders and farmed for their milk, poor people are tightly controlled with limited access to resources, and our (largely female) heroes, instead of running, go back to overthrow the system.

      I didn’t like the gratuitous scantily clad women, but I can forgive it for the story.

      But yeah, I’m definitely seeing feminist themes beyond those amazing warrior women.

      “Makes me want to go and strap myself to the front of a car.”

      *laugh* Right?! I fear we are going to see a lot of people attempting this. Plus people trying to put those amazing bendy spikes on their cars and having people climb them… oh lawd…

      Ferns

  4. All the things you say. I wasn’t especially looking for those femdommy moments, but they jumped out. The scene with the rifle was one. Also loved that, in the end, it wasn’t Max who saved the day. He helped, to be sure, but Furiosa killed the big baddy and it was the little halflife dude who stopped the war parties. Max did give his own blood to save her, though. That was sweet…

    Anyway, yes. More like this, please.

    1. Those moments DID jump out! Sometimes I know I am making this stuff up in my head because I really WANT to see it, but not this time.

      And yes: More more mooorree!!

      Ferns

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I was ambivalent about watching it, but with the little gems you have highlighted, I am now wanting to watch it.

    I get so tired of the MRAs. So much confirmation bias they can’t see straight. Sigh…

  6. I’m waiting for this movie to come to the small screen; it sounds awesome, but a bit scary for me.

    Your post reminded me a lot of Meljean Brook’s _Heart of Steel_; great steampunk romance with a definite femdom undertone.

    1. It is adrenaline-fueled kind of scary, though so over-the-top that it’s almost cartoon-level-scary.

      I haven’t actually been to a cinema for AGES (I was waiting for it to be available at home also): It was a spur of the moment thing, but I have to say that it was definitely worth seeing it writ large because it’s SO huge and busy and boomy, I think the scale of it almost demands the big screen.

      Though having said that, it’s a lot safer at home where you can pause it to regroup if you get scared :).

      Ferns

  7. Thank you, Ferns! Now I’m definitely going to see this on the big screen – and I’m already a Charlize Theron fan!

  8. I hadn’t even heard of Mad Max before this post, but I ended up watching it yesterday. Gotta agree with Ferns on all counts, this was a beautiful film. Hardy and Theron were both outstanding, and while there was relatively little actual dialogue, I was never left questioning what was going on. Edge-of-your-seat action, well rounded and realistic character development, and several varieties of badass eye candy. I will definitely be adding this to my film collection.

    1. I’m so delighted that you’ve never heard of Mad Max (I don’t know why, I just am!).

      I’m glad you saw what I saw. So good! *smile*.

      Ferns

  9. “I want to see a depiction of a femdom relationship: they are both badasses, she’s just MORE of one. Those are the kinds of interactions that show that. Max doesn’t have to diminish himself or somehow be ‘less than’ to recognise it. Nor does he have some huge struggle with it (‘waaah, she’s better than me… MY MANHOOD IS SHRINKING’ *commence alpha chest beating waves of insecurity*).”

    This right here….this is what I like. I wasn’t planning on seeing it but after reading a couple of reviews by lady friends I was starting to rethink it. But now, I’m definitely going to see it tomorrow.

  10. why USA women are so obsessed with misandry ?

    heck…. even movies about misandry……..

    since when ” hatred ” has started to be cool ?
    it started with nazism or even before ?

    i must really be the anachronistic one or the other folks are the anachronistic one ……

    since i do not understand the ” charm ” of the
    ” hatred “……

    sorry for my bad english.

    1. 1. I’m not American

      2. The director of this movie is male and also not American

      3. There is no hatred for men in the movie or in this post

      4. There’s a term for people who see misandry in anything that is female-positive. Can you guess what that is?

      5. Godwin’s law. Nice

      6. Ugh.

      Ferns

  11. This movie didn’t actually piss off MRAs; it pissed off return of kings, which is an anti-MRA group.

    Also, that situation described doesn’t really sound like femdom to me. If a woman has a skill a man doesn’t, and they act accordingly, it isn’t femdom, it’s basic logic and sound reasoning.

    1. “If a woman has a skill a man doesn’t, and they act accordingly, it isn’t femdom, it’s basic logic and sound reasoning.”

      …except for the fact that the world rarely works that way. Sad but true.

      A strong, assertive woman stepping into the role she should occupy and the men involved accepting her authority rather than playing macho games and trying to push her aside – that’s something to celebrate.

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