Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Day of the Outlaw

The role of women in the 1959 film, "The Day of the Outlaw," is somewhat unique within the western genre. Unlike the traditional western, women are certainly not excluded from the central plot. In fact, the entire movie centers around caring for and protecting the female characters. They are consistently shown voicing their opinions and do not immediately obey the orders of the men as in earlier films.

However, although the women are respected and honored, they are by no means treated as equals. In actuality, this film objectifies its female characters even more blatantly than the films of the previous decades. The women are regarded by the outlaws as mere "pleasures," repeatedly placed in the same category as whiskey. The head of the outlaws states, "my men won't molest your women unless I give them permission." In this scene he is depicted as righteous and moral for protecting the women. Yet, the statement itself insinuates that he has the right to allow his men to sexually assault the females.

In many ways, the film does show great respect for women. They are genuinely cared for and held in high regard. This aspect reflects attitudes of the late 1950s, the time the film was made, which marked the beginning stages of the women's movement. However, the mindset of the outlaws, which belittles and objectifies the females, reflects the same time period's opposition to women's rights and rejection of women as equal members of society.

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