You may have noticed that in the make-believe world of film, there are specific gender-based rules surrounding who gets rescued and who does the rescuing.It usually looks like this:
- Men rescue women. A lot! Pretty much the majority of all rescues. (See: Damsel in Distress trope).
- Men rescue other men
- Women rescue other women
The scenario that almost never seems to get any screen action, is a woman rescuing a man. Sure, you’ll find films with courageous women, but as a general rule, women aren’t shown swooping in to save a dude in distress.
Perhaps it’s because filmmakers think this would somehow compromise a male character’s dignity. Maybe they fear the audience might interpret the rescue as being less a reflection of the woman’s heroism, and more a reflection of the man’s cowardice.
This fear certainly would explain why in those rare moments when a film does show a Woman Rescues Man scenario, it usually comes with a few of the following sexist stipulations:
- The man does not cry or scream for help. In fact, he’s usually fighting his heart out to save himself before the woman comes to his rescue.
- At some point the man should lose consciousness. This serves to spare the audience from having to see the him looking frightened or visibly shaken about what has happened to him.
- The rescue should not in itself be a complete story arc, but instead be contained to a brief scene.
- To balance the gender role reversal, at some point there should be a shot that emphasizes the woman’s gentleness. For example, a caress of the cheek or cradling of the man in a way that’s vaguely reminiscent of the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.
While these stipulations often make certain aspects of a rescue scene seem ridiculous, because the Woman Rescues Man scenario is so rarely depicted, I can’t help but smile when I do spot it. Especially when I spot it in a movie meant for children or teens.
So in that spirit, below are a few of the most memorable film scenes showing a woman (or female-like creature) rescuing a man. You can enlarge a thumbnail by clicking on it. Enjoy!
1. Ariel save Eric from drowning in “The Little Mermaid.”
2 . Buffy saves Pike from vampires in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
3. Neytiri kills Quaritch and saves Jake from suffocation in “Avatar.”