Johnny Guitar and Two Mules for Sister Sara both show women in a more prominent light. This is due to the progressive feminist movements were taking place. Women were beginning to have a bigger role in society, other than being in the center of domesticity.
In Johnny Guitar, the two women characters Vienna and Emma become focal points throughout the film. Kid is in love with Vienna, which is not an emotion the alpha male cowboy often displays. Vienna and Emma are very different characters, and are almost opposites. Vienna is more relaxed and calm while Emma is more uneasy and outspoken. Women are still portrayed as emotional and use language to express themselves. For example, Vienna tells Johnny that she loves him, letting her emotions get the best of her. As Tompkins states, “It is by putting words to an emotion that it becomes feminized” (56).
In Two Mules for Sister Sara, the other, Sara, is a prostitute who lies to Hogan telling him that she is a nun. Tompkins claims “It is precisely words that cannot express truth about things” (53); cowboys distrust language for this reason. Sara is still somewhat similar to the typical “other” role in westerns since she uses men to get what she wants; she depends on men. Tompkins goes on to explain how women are categorized with language to express their emotions, while men are categorized with action. Sara, however, does not use language to express her emotions but to lie. When Sara tries to tell Hogan the truth, he doesn’t listen, which is typical of the alpha male cowboy. Sara also does tasks outside of the “other” role by placing dynamite on the train tracks. Sara is different from the “other” characters, and uses language in a completely different way. “Language is gratuitous at best,” Tompkins says “at worst it is deceptive” (52).