The Future Is Female: How ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Uses Gender

     October 13, 2017


With Blade Runner 2049 now in theaters, we wanted to talk about some specific aspects of the film, which means going into spoilers.  If you have not seen Blade Runner 2049 yet, STOP READING NOW and come back after you see the movie.


Image via Alcon Entertainment / Warner Bros.

The male trying to figure out if he’s human or a replicant has now (thrillingly) been done twice in the Blade Runner universe. In the long-awaited sequel, K (Ryan Gosling)’s journey leads him to discover that hope can throw him off his baseline but also lead him down a path of sacrifice (which is very human). That’s an interesting story on its own, but Denis Villeneuve has surrounded him with various female characters—human and replicant—who show many different shades of humanity (or near-humanity) as well. Some were born that way simply because they were born but most were manufactured that way. Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t tick the comfy feminist box because it keeps almost all of its women in box but it’s the acknowledgment of that box throughout human history that makes these characters truly register. This isn’t a woman is strong because she kicks ass feminism, this is Patriarchy 8.0 through technical advancements.

The glass-ceiling workforce was broken but another ceiling is placed higher above. It’s the ceiling of the whole goddamn universe and how men feel like they should own it. “The future is female” is a common rallying cry in our modern culture in response to governments attempting to go backwards in “society values”, in response to oppressive scandals such as Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of power and to tyrannical figureheads who silence anyone who counters them. For the purposes of this article, it’s the female presence in various forms that’s the most interesting human angle in Blade Runner 2049 and the route that they should take if there ever is another sequel: the future is female.

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner gave us female pleasure models and it’s not regressive to show that by 2049 there are many different types of pleasure models. In a gross awareness of the likely future—how many animated male sex dolls have you reach about in comparison to female? There’s a race to make the most “realistic” female companion already underway—there are hologram women named Joi. Humans and replicants alike can purchase their own Joi to make a man feel better. In many ways it’s easier to be doted upon, be asked questions, and bask in the glow of someone who possess the agreed upon perfect femme physique via a realistic program than it would be to enter into a relationship with a human woman who might challenge, not always worship, nor find her partner attractive at all times. But you’d lose your humanity in the process, right? Because it places your needs on a shelf without compromise or concession.

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