November 24, 2015

In The Headlines: Natalie Dormer on Female Empowerment

This week The Guardian featured a story with Game of Thrones and Hunger Games star Natalie Dormer.

Natalie Dormer. Photograph: Julien Lienard/Getty

In the article, Dormer dishes on the subject of feminine empowerment in popular media. Touching briefly on a past interview, in which her comments on a then-current Game of Thrones plot-line became misconstrued as condoning sex with underage children, Dorner points out the double-standards held against female actresses are put under while male co-stars are understood to be simply "playing a part". 

Looking beyond double-standards, though, Dormer also points out that female empowerment is often generalized and equated with the character's sexuality. A "strong woman" is very often portrayed simply by handing the female a gun, putting her in a skintight catsuit and killer high heels, and giving her a foul-mouthed but still highly flirtatious or sexualized dialogue. After playing several roles as a powerful woman predominantly focused on her sexual relationships, Dormer points out the contrast of playing a woman in a combat zone in military jumpsuits and muddy boots (Cressida in Mockingjay, Part 2). In this role, the character's strength is portrayed in manners not feminized or based on a sexual role. True empowerment, Dormer argues, is not a stylized, hyper-sexualization.

What do you think? Where does real empowerment come from in women in media? Share any examples you consider a good example of an empowered female character, and tell us why, in the comments below.

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