Searching for a Feminist Western: The Searchers, The Hired Hand, and The Missing

Maureen T. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Western film genre as a whole has traditionally focused on the circumstances and actions directly related almost exclusively to White male protagonists. As a result, in this genre, women's actions are largely ignored by men and their voices are silenced or seemingly are without consequence. Drawing examples from two Alternative Westerns-The Hired Hand [1971] and The Missing [2003]-and the classic Western, The Searchers [1956], to support my argument, I suggest here that for a Western to be considered feminist the plot must constitute a subversion of and a challenge to a mainstream text; the actions of a female protagonist must drive the plot rather than simply provide a reason for actions of the male character or characters; the dialogue of one or more female protagonists must challenge and subvert masculine discourse, as well as convey agency; and meanings must be plural rather than singular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-71
Number of pages27
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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