asks novelist Chris Pavone in a recent Wall Street Journal blog post. Pavone, the author of The Expats, riffs on the theme of “how many women have been beating the crap out of people in movies recently.” He starts off referencing Lisbeth Salander, “that tattooed girl herself,” who is, in Pavone’s words, “the surly new archetype of ass-kicking woman.” He then goes on to highlight the 2011 films, Hanna and Columbiana, as well as Angelina Jolie in The Tourist, Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, and the just opened Hunger Games. What’s happening in film is also happening in television, says Pavone, citing “Piper Perabo’s oddly compelling combination of ass-kicking and wisecracking and tight-skirt-wearing, on Covert Affairs.” He goes on to argue:
“What’s with all this female-perpetrated violence? Two and a half years ago, when I started writing a thriller called The Expats about a spy turned expat homemaker who relapses, I thought I was doing something marginally original. Sure, Angelina Jolie had been beating people up for years, but she was a statistical outlier in a field populated by her beau and his pals, while Rooney Mara was playing an ex-girlfriend. Now everywhere I turn there are stoic, buff women running around shooting guns, and elbowing people in their tracheas. (And by “people,” I mean men; these women are not, for the most part, beating each other up.) Why? Is this Fourth Wave Feminism, wherein women are the new action heroes—the assassins, the spies, the hired guns, the defenders against the occult? (We even have an actual nonfiction First Lady who looks like she has a fearsome right hook, a far cry from the Rosalynn Carters and Nancy Reagans of my youth.) Is this a bona fide cultural shift, in the way we view gender roles? Or just a venal marketing shift, in the way moviemakers are angling to earn a buck? Or both?”
What do you think?