Throughout watching Avatar, I kept thinking, “What would be different about the story if the sexes of the main characters were different? What if the lead were a woman, and her love interest, the Pandoran local, were a man?” That might have made Avatar a feminist movie, but otherwise, I’d disagree with Rebecca Keegan of Vanity Fair who argues it’s a feminist film. I’d agree more with Lauren Bans of XX Factor, who questions (here) what a “feminist” movie is.
The women are not the drivers of the story, a critique levied (here) against Nancy Meyers by Daphne Merkin in the NY Times recently. More importantly, each person’s role fits neatly within his or her sex identity. On whether Avatar is “feminist,” I’d agree more with Lauren Bans of XX Factor, who questions what a “feminist” movie is. In Avatar, there’s no breaking out of sex stereotypes, and for me, that’s its failure.