|Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in Terminator 2: Judgment Day|
This post previously appeared at Bitch Flicks on May 25, 2012.
Mothers are supposed to be everything to everyone. Sadly, society often stigmatizes, vilifies and demonizes single mothers. Single moms are blamed for “breeding more criminals.” Single parenthood is criminalized and “declared child abuse.” On top of that, “almost 70% of people believe single women raising children on their own is bad for society.” WTF? Seriously?? Wow. Way to be misogynistic people.
So it’s no surprise to see broken and dysfunctional single moms reflected on-screen. And don’t get me wrong. I love watching flawed female characters. But what about single mom Sarah Connor, “the mother of destiny?” Often labeled a feminist hero, topping lists for greatest female characters, is she the “ultimate protective single mother?”
Along with Ellen Ripley, Sarah helped pave the way for strong female characters. In Terminator, Sarah (Linda Hamilton) is a friendly college student and food server, lacking confidence, who “can’t even balance [her] checkbook.” Targeted by cyborg assassins sent from the future to kill her son, the future resistance leader fighting against domineering machines, she is thrust into a hellish nightmare fighting for her life. The Sarah (Linda Hamilton) of Terminator 2: Judgment Day transforms into a badass goddess. With her sculpted muscles doing pull-ups and firing guns, she’s a ferocious warrior filled with rage (something women are rarely allowed to exhibit) yet haunted and struggling with mental stability. In the cancelled-way-too-early fantastic TV series Sarah Connor Chronicles, we witness Sarah (Lena Headey) as a brave single mother, passionate, smart, angry and flawed, doing everything she can to not only survive but thrive.
As kickass as she is, Sarah possesses no other identity beyond motherhood. She exists solely to protect her John from assassination or humanity will be wiped out. Every decision, every choice she makes, is to protect her son. In Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron tells Sarah that “Without John, your life has no purpose.” Sarah tells her ex-fiancé that she’s not trying to change her fate but change John’s. Even before she becomes a mother in Terminator, her identity is tied to her uterus and her capacity for motherhood.
On the surface, it seems like the Terminator franchise revolves around a dude often searching for a father figure rather than appreciating his mother. And problematic depictions of motherhood do emerge. But who’s really the hero? Is it the smart hacker son destined to be a leader? Is it the cyborg that learns humanity? Or is it the brave and fierce single mother who sacrifices everything to protect humanity and doesn’t wait for destiny to unfold but takes matters into her own hands?
Continue reading -->
Continue reading -->