Free Essay: Depiction of Gender and Gender Roles in "Death Wish"

Published: 2023-03-27
Free Essay: Depiction of Gender and Gender Roles in "Death Wish"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women Gender Discrimination Movie
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 581 words
5 min read

The movie 'Death Wish' is based in Chicago featuring a family that was victim to robbery and depicted several gender roles in society. Movies are a source of entertainment and often bear messages, but they also inadvertently show the roles that both genders play in society. Although the main theme of 'Death Wish' is to show the high levels of crime in Chicago, it affirms the traditional roles of men as protectors and the dominant figures with women seen as the weaker gender serving as caregivers and taking up miniature jobs.

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Mainstream Gender Roles

The role of gender mainstreaming is to ensure gender equality by granting equal opportunities to both men and women. The movie reinforces gender mainstreaming in some scenes. This reinforcement is evident from the presence of a male and female police officer in the Chicago police department who take up the case.

On the other hand, the movie subverts gender mainstreaming with gender inequality evident in the movie with men taking center stage. To start with, the main character, Dr Kersey, is a man with women taking a lesser role. To add to that, Dr Kersey serves as the surgeon assisted by women who serve as nurses. At one point, when the doctor has to leave the operating room, he leaves a man in charge despite the presence of numerous women (Birnbaum, 2018, 0:02:40).

The use of women as sex objects is evident when a young girl is used for advertising guns and approaching men when they come to the store. Also, despite the availability of both a policewoman and policeman, Dr Kersey seeks the male figure, thus portraying men as more competent and qualified.

Gender and Sex in the United States

The movie reveals the different roles of men and women in the U.S. First, the man is seen as the breadwinner and provider of the family. Dr Kersey works while the wife is only shown as a housewife. The wife mainly takes up the role of a caregiver who cooks and cleans for the family with the husband not taking part in these chores (Birnbaum, 2018, 0:04:40). The male figure is also depicted as the protector of the family and women as weak and in need of protection. When the wife is killed in a robbery and the daughter hospitalized, the husband admitted that he had failed in his role as a man by not protecting his family (Birnbaum, 2018, 0:30:43).

Contrary to men, women are seen as vulnerable and easy targets. When robbers break in the house of Dr Kersey, he hides his daughter as he goes out to take care of the situation. The movie also shows that crime in the U.S. is mainly due to the violence of men with women falling victims and not as perpetrators. All the robbers and gangsters involved in criminal activities are male, showing men as a thorn in society.


'Death Wish' paints an accurate picture of gender in society. Despite ongoing efforts to ensure gender equality, inequality remains entrenched in the roots of society. Men are still the dominant figures taking up senior jobs and serving as the heads of their families. Women continue to play second to men, as the helpers of men, taking up lesser jobs and getting less pay. Media, as seen in this movie, plays a role in the representation of gender to help bridge the gap between men and women.


Birnbaum, R. (Producer), & Roth, E. (Director). (2018). Death Wish [Motion picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer.

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