Many feminists have been critical of Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World (2015), calling it sexist, 1 yet it has an important message for women who pursue a career: the need for work-life balance. As the operations manager for a dinosaur theme park, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a workaholic. Her priorities in life are out of balance.
Claire’s priorities are revealed by what she makes time for. When her nephews (who she hasn’t seen in seven years) arrive on the island, she sends her assistant to chaperone them and isn’t available until 8 pm. Her sister Karen (Judy Greer) calls her and is angry because it “was supposed to be a family weekend.” Claire loves her nephews, but maintaining a relationship with them is not a top priority in her life.
A romantic relationship is not a major priority in Claire’s life either. Although she went on a date with Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), there is no evidence that she has dated anyone else. What Claire makes time for signals to the viewer that her career is her only real priority. However, when she faces a life and death situation, her priorities begin to change.
During the crisis on the island, Claire realizes that there are other priorities in life besides work. When the Indominus Rex escapes, and her nephews’ lives are in danger, she risks her own life to save them. In partnering with Owen to find them, she falls in love. At the end of the film, when she asks Owen, “What do we do now?”, he answers, “Stick together for survival.” Claire realizes that a romantic relationship (and family relationships) are equally important as her career. A healthy feminism requires balancing the demands of work with the need for personal relationships.
Feminists have been critical of Claire for her high-heeled shoes, a gender stereotype, but the film also reverses gender stereotypes. The dinosaurs are like dragons, and Owen is a knight, but Claire is not a damsel in distress. When Owen is about to be killed by a dinosaur, she picks up a gun and shoots it—saving a man in distress.
Claire is an independent woman who is capable of living on her own. She doesn’t need a man because she is emotionally needy. Claire needs Owen for the same reason that Owen needs her: Loving someone (and being loved by someone) makes life richer and more meaningful. All human beings have a need to be loved.
- Alex Abad-Santos, “A guide to Jurassic World’s sexism controversy,” Vox, June 16, 2015, http://www.vox.com/2015/6/16/8788641/jurassic-world-sexism