While Western television shows of the past generally gave audiences attractive, well-coiffed, women who fulfilled the traditional roles of the hero's leading lady, contemporary series have seemingly caught up with the women's movement. Characters such as Dale Evans and Miss Kitty handled guns, but only when necessary, and primarily served to back their men's play. Now our small screen western women pack pistols without hesitation, wear the pants, and command the screen. Gemma Teller Morrow of the motorcycle soap opera Sons of Anarchy and federal marshal Mary Shannon of In Plain Sight are two such characters. But have Western heroines really gained equality? What can be learned from the evolution of the character of the western woman? While Morrow commands the town of Charming with a firm hand, it is also a manicured hand under the control of her husband. And Shannon earns the respect of her co-workers and witnesses as a consummate law enforcement officer but fears emotional intimacy in a way that cripples her. By analyzing the juxtaposition of sexuality, violence, and intimacy in these characters, we can interrogate the ways in which these western women are both liberated and subject to traditional gender roles.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 152-173
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.