Counter Depiction of Female Gender Stereotypes NIKITA Film Series (2010-2013)

Counter Depiction of Female Gender Stereotypes
 in Nikita Film Series (2010-2013)

Tori Nuariza Sutanto Nikita


Generally, The idea of Gender Stereotypes terminology ‘ are simplistic generalizations about the gender attributes, differences, and roles of individuals or groups. According to Dyer (1993), it explores function that might be viewed more positively as ordering process or short cut, negatively arbitrariness in using stereotypes could be generalized individuals or groups uniqueness, feeling, and aspirations. For instance, female gender stereotypes provide beliefs that all woman have to be married and care her children in first priority, also are weaker than men, fragile, do not belong in positions of authority, have to be look pretty, an object of men, be flirtatious, enjoy cooking, like flowers and dolls (Lee & Fiske, 2008). Since, the mainstream gender stereotypes are represented commonly through media such as films, advertisements, music videos, photography, and other media, This paper aims to analyze counter depiction of woman Gender Stereotypes through popular film series Nikita (2010-2013) in American Television Channel Warner TV. Furthermore, this Nikita Film series could also be seen by Indonesian viewers who has cable television channels or in SINDO TV, one of Multi-National-Corporation (MNC) TV. What interested for me in this film series, at the very beginning were action-oriented, drama, thriller series, also psychological spy-fiction genre and the plot of female super agent who were doing mission of Division Agency, a U.S Top Secret Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Operation Agency. This film employs new technology of intelligence operation and conflicts of the member of the Division which portrayals the possibility of competition among U.S individual agent and also Intelligence Agencies. The fact, in which, this film series which released 2010-2013 the story developed by Craig Silverstein, based on adoption of the French Film La Femme Nikita by Luc Benson, then in 1997 Joel Surnow, starting to directed this American version in USA Network, also the movie version in 1993, entitled The Remake Point of No Return (1993). The latest version in which adopted for American Television succeeded and nominated in some American TV Awards. Thus, This film is popular, then it depicts new images of Tough Woman who are brave, smart, strong and be a core of her team, a  new model of Female Hero.

New Images of Tough Woman

Mary Magoulick (2006 : 3), emphasized, that the mainstream media along with many feminist celebrated the show of female hero, which praised stronger, more independent, and less emotional woman that become their new role models. Magoulick found mixed messages that are similar in the three kinds of female hero film such as Nikita, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Xena. These film shows fulfilled the hopes of viewers who admired strength, spirit and intelligent woman performance, in which break the mainstream stereotypes of women which placed domestically into more public and become the core and play important roles in life. Nikita (2010-2013), promoted the message of the ‘backlash’ was over (Magoulick, 2006 :3), women  were more valued, stronger and more independent, in addition, the underline message that feminists ideal, was this is the new role of assertive and pro-active women leads. What portrayed in Nikita Film series (2010-2013), that Nikita always, be the core of the Division Agency, super-dependable in doing operation, and very decisive, even-though, her decision was more emotionally and morally than rational and logic. Her strong influence in Seymour Birkhoff, technical hacker operator, Alex, her junior disciples, and Michael, man that he loves so much, and Bryan, the intelligence analyst, was significant to their life. This plot shows new kind female hero model, who be the core and leads the way and decision of the team operation.
Male Dominated World : Projecting Status Quo
The trend of new images of female hero, who are dynamic, independent, honest, strong, stylish, in a way maintaining spirit and intelligent, as Magoulick said in her research (2006), in contrast to the other side of female hero life, living in ambiguities and complexities life. Female hero, such as Nikita, Buffy, Xena, are still fight within their environment to be successful in their public and domestic life. I am convinced that the Nikita perform message in the other way, would like to show that strong women doesn’t have a perfect life. In some scenes, Nikita has to fight her evil enemy or her agency target enemies physically and emotionally, while in the other scene it was blending also with her problems in romantic love partner, complicated relationship with Michael, Family whose still she would like to find the identity, and dealing with her friends problems too. Strong Women lives in complexities and problematic life, pointed out the underline hidden agenda of the Nikita Film

Positive review comes out of the emergence of more female Hero in films and television series that demonstrates strong  role models of female viewers and supports by feminist ideals. In the contrary, that most ignored or not protested by the female viewers or some feminist, that for instance in Nikita, woman are all still controlled and formed by man. Man give them their strength (Michael Trained hard Nikita), man help them to channel whataver power they have (Michael always back-up and support Nikita with Division operator and technology recources), men are lurking in Magoulick analysis (2006) these are three models of lurking men in female hero film; as potential lovers, as controlling figure or boss, and also potential threats. In Nikita scene, Michael did ever those three models depending on the dynamic plot in 1st season  until 4th season. Michael trained, controlled, loved Nikita, and also posses Nikita in a damage situation. He dominates, controls and seduces Nikita. Nikita still lives on the male-dominated world, present male fantasies (tight and sexy outfits), and projecting status quo of women as the object. Furthermore, female heroes who has romantic relationship with one of the male actor in the film, often suffering and worrying her love relationship, it was considered torment rather than pleasure for female hero love relationship.


To sum up, Nikita film series (2010-2013) demonstrates the new depiction of female gender stereotypes, who are strong, intelligent, leader, and independent. This depiction fulfilled the hopes of feminist viewers to counter the old gender stereotypes who are fragile, controlled, dominated, and objected. Unfortunately, in other side, this film series still maintaining the status quo of male domination and women as an object. The Nikita Film series portray the complexities of Nikita Life in either in domestic and public. Nikita as the female model representation struggle for the life physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Strong women faces hard life!

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Inness, Sherrie A. Ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004

Johnson, Andrew. (2010). Review of La Femme Nikita (1990).

Lee, Tiane & Fiske, Susan. (2008). International Encycolpedia of the Social Sciences. accessed on June, 27. 2013 08.10 a.m

Magoulick, Mary. (2006). Frustating Female Heroism : Mixed Messages in Xena, Buffy, Nikita. New York : The Journal of Popular Culture Vol. 39 No.5

Pauly, John.  “ La Femme Nikita and the Ethics of Organizational Life” accessed on June, 27. 2013 07.30 a.m accessed on June, 27. 2013 08.25 a.m accessed on June, 27. 2013 08.25 a.m accessed on June, 27. 2013 07.30 a.m


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