Why a Woman Needs a Man: Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic-World-Bryce-Howard-IGMany feminists have been critical of Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World (2015), calling it sexist, 1 yet it has an important message for women who pursue a career: the need for work-life balance. As the operations manager for a dinosaur theme park, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a workaholic. Her priorities in life are out of balance.

Claire’s priorities are revealed by what she makes time for. When her nephews (who she hasn’t seen in seven years) arrive on the island, she sends her assistant to chaperone them and isn’t available until 8 pm. Her sister Karen (Judy Greer) calls her and is angry because it “was supposed to be a family weekend.” Claire loves her nephews, but maintaining a relationship with them is not a top priority in her life.

A romantic relationship is not a major priority in Claire’s life either. Although she went on a date with Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), there is no evidence that she has dated anyone else. What Claire makes time for signals to the viewer that her career is her only real priority. However, when she faces a life and death situation, her priorities begin to change.

During the crisis on the island, Claire realizes that there are other priorities in life besides work. When the Indominus Rex escapes, and her nephews’ lives are in danger, she risks her own life to save them. In partnering with Owen to find them, she falls in love. At the end of the film, when she asks Owen, “What do we do now?”, he answers, “Stick together for survival.” Claire realizes that a romantic relationship (and family relationships) are equally important as her career. A healthy feminism requires balancing the demands of work with the need for personal relationships.

Feminists have been critical of Claire for her high-heeled shoes, a gender stereotype, but the film also reverses gender stereotypes. The dinosaurs are like dragons, and Owen is a knight, but Claire is not a damsel in distress. When Owen is about to be killed by a dinosaur, she picks up a gun and shoots it—saving a man in distress.

Claire is an independent woman who is capable of living on her own. She doesn’t need a man because she is emotionally needy. Claire needs Owen for the same reason that Owen needs her: Loving someone (and being loved by someone) makes life richer and more meaningful. All human beings have a need to be loved.

Notes

  1. Alex Abad-Santos, “A guide to Jurassic World’s sexism controversy,” Vox, June 16, 2015, http://www.vox.com/2015/6/16/8788641/jurassic-world-sexism
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7 thoughts on “Why a Woman Needs a Man: Jurassic World (2015)

  1. A great, well-written article that raises some interesting points. I wouldn’t see the film as sexist at all. Claire has a high-powered role in Jurassic World, higher than any male in the film, bar Simon Masrani. The character was chosen to be stiff to show how work can interfere with life if you let it.

    This would’ve been the same if a male had been playing the Operations Manager. Sometimes, doing good can never win – there’ll always be those ready to complain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. +A.M. Ramirrez: And just how many films have involved a man too tied up in his work to make any kind of commitment to the patient woman who, if the poor sap only knew it, he needed in his life?

    A leading man is constantly shown as a callous, work-focused, hard-drinking bastards who really need a little variety in his life, if only he would realise it. And finally, when the woman the doesn’t realise he loves and the not-quite-stepchildren with whom he does his best not to interact are in danger, he straps on the M-16 with coaxial grenade launcher, a belt-load of mags and another of grenades, goes through hell to save them and then tries to pretend it didn’t matter… but a raised eyebrow from the saved almost-sweetheart forces him to admit that perhaps he does need a good woman and… well… maybe he does care for the fractious kids as well.

    This just aboutt a trope. It’s always the man who’s last to admit that well, perhaps he does need a relationship after all..

    However, since Claire was a major character in the film, inverting the trope or not, I do agree that they could have developed her back-story a lot more, to show her journey of character development.

    I don’t agree that Owen becomes the key for her self-fulfilment. Claire has been pushed way beyond her office-based, air-conditioned comfort zone, and it’s given her a different perspective over what’s important: she’s grown as a character.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As you point out, relationships are important and both sexes need them. Why feminists get so touchy about this can be comical. I don’t think an action film about dinosaurs is going to influence any young women’s life choices about relationships and career. A well written post. In particular I like the way you pointed out Owen is ” the man in distress.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s disturbing that women want to prioritize working for “the man” over creating a family of their own. The best men have never enjoyed slaving away in the work force. We only saw it as a means to an end and that end is to bring home a healthy paycheck to support our families. The privilege for men was to be rewarded with love and respect from our wives and children when we came home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good read. I understand your point, but the film didn’t explore her character enough and presented it in a better way to establish this. I think it would have been better if the film acknowledged that Claire has different priorities other than the motherhood, instead of telling the audience that she needs kids and a man. The character development should have focused on the ethical mistakes of her job and the need for a work-life balance. Owen is a part of that, not the key for her self-fulfillment.

    Liked by 1 person

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