It came into my consciousness with Thelma and Louise. Two women, resisting a male dominated world that had attempted to keep them shackled. Over the years, there have been a string of female empowerment movies and TV shows: Alien (also Ridley Scott), Aliens (not only Ripley, but Vasquez), Terminator (Cameron), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon), Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino).

We (meaning Brian and Rob) watched The Descent last night. I really liked this movie (only two scenes brought it from excellent down to very good). The only thing I had heard about this movie was the ‘female empowerment’. Female empowerment, to me, usually means just that – a woman taking control of her life, making the decisions she wants to make – regardless of the current establishment and the consequences forthcoming.

For some reason, in cinema, female empowerment seems to mean kicking ass and squishing eyeballs (both the Descent and Kill Bill).

In the Descent, as the characters climb deeper into the earth (hell), the primal female warrior emerges in the one who was the most fragile. A strength that was invisible at the outset bubbles to the surface as she kills and maims her way to possible freedom against the subhuman aggressors.

But I’m wondering – is that actual female empowerment?

Many of the movies listed above you could argue that the females are merely mother hens – either trying to restore the family unit, or seek revenge because of its destruction. And the Descent is no different. With her family dead, she is a broken shell until pushed to the limits of survival.

The other notable is that all these movies are directed and produced by men. Is this the idealized version of an ‘empowered woman’ from a man’s perspective? A reaper of death and destruction, who kills with ruthlessness (Aliens) and without remorse (Kill Bill)? Look, she can rip out a throat as well as any male serial killer. Wow. Not to say that I don’t like a deadly chick. Deep down, every guy is terrified of a woman’s power in some regard. After all, who else can rip out our hearts without even touching us? Who, ultimately, controls the species because of their child bearing?

But it’s almost ironic that when these man-made movies aren’t female empowerment movies at all. In fact, they’re kind of the opposite: Look, the chick must be empowered because she’s just like a guy.