ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Thelma and Louise: Genetic vs Biological Behaviors of Gender

Updated on October 2, 2011

Behavior between genders has puzzled anthropologists since the beginning of anthropology. Although there are several theories based on describing interactions that take place between sexes, one theory that stands out is the biosocial theory. With biosocial theory, gender roles are dictated by nature, in which males and females have their own set of predetermined behaviors. These behaviors and interactions stem from hundreds of years of genetic and biological shaping. One film that explores and challenges the fundamentals of this theory is the film Thelma and Louise.

At the beginning of Thelma and Louise, both main characters are put into traditional gender roles. Thelma (Geena Davis) is forced to live as an abused housewife catering to her husband. Louise (Susan Sarandon) on the other hand has somewhat more freedom, as she is a minimum wage waitress at a run down diner. Through the two main characters, the biosocial theory can be shown as factual because both put the women in less dominant roles than men. This dominance that holds the women forces them into positions that ultimately are assumed to be biological.

One factor that biosocialist’s determine power dominance of men over women is based off of aggressiveness that is passed down from male to male. This aggressiveness can be shown at the very beginning of the film with the husband of Thelma and later on when she meets a J.D. (Brad Pitt) at a bar. In the book Gender and Anthropology it talks about the biological encoding of aggressive behavior. “They argue that if male aggression is found in many animal species, it must have played an important part in survival…Assuming females play little or no role in mate choice, they hypothesize that aggressive males win out over their rivals”(14). Through Thelma’s biological weakness theorists would state that the weakness Thelma projects allows dominant males to take control of her own life. However, as the road trip progresses Thelma explores and taps into male power. She does this by changing the status quo of male versus female control. One example from the film would be when she loses the money to J.D. In order for both girls to survive, Thelma becomes dominant by gaining back money that was stolen to them by J.D. by stealing themselves through robbing a grocery store. This ultimately disrupts the theory that all women are born without aggression, which is considered a male trait.

Louise’s transition to obtaining male power and aggressiveness is subtler. Although Louise kills a man at the beginning of the film, she is shown throughout as someone who has access to male power, but doesn’t necessarily use it all of the time. The cigarettes that she constantly is shown smoking are an extension of the male power that she possesses. However, Louise keeps herself from becoming to masculine because in some ways she wants to protect her feminine side. In this way Louise is portrayed as a feminist within the film, a character that wants equal power as men, but doesn’t want to be a man. In Gender and Anthropology the book claims, “Until the advent of feminism, anthropology largely treated women as invisible and ignored issues of gender”(7). Through the representation of Louise, audiences are supposed to identify that she is a character that symbolizes the feminist movement. In which equality is given to both genders without question and not based of the biological differences between the two.

Biological differences between genders plays a role in society, however they do not dictate the rights that are set up between genders. In Thelma and Louise, both characters start with oppression by male figures, but through time and experience both characters gain power in order to survive. The film truly represents the freedom obtained from psychological awakenings, rather then purely based on biological factors. It is because of the growth that the two women share, that by the end of the film they become truly free from male oppression and ultimately, in their own way, become equals among men.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)