Women Depicted as a Prize to be Won or Owned

Table Of Contents

Main Description

Of all the tropes that have become ingrained in our collective consciousness, the belief that women are mere objects who can be "won" or "owned" is one of the most alarming. The concept is prevalent in movies for every age group, beginning with cartoons marketed to young kids and going all the way up to movies meant solely for adults. It plays out in comedies, dramas, action thrillers, and horror films. And it's so ubiquitous that we often don't bat an eye when we see it happen on screen.

Conservative Trope Examples

  • Bass fisherman Skeet Martin very aggressively pursues Jane throughout the episode even creepily renaming his boat from "Skeetster" to "Janester." Yet at the very end she relents and watches the sunset in his boat parked on the street while drinking champagne. It is only for ten minutes, but she tells him to call her the next time he's in Boston.
  • Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) interrupts Dana multiple inappropriate times when she is busy at work including in a Google pod quiet area in an attempt to ask her out. Despite his behavior, she eventually agrees to go to dinner with him and they end up dating.
  • Jason (Jason Segel) and Ronnie (Chris O'Dowd) compete for Desi's (Megan Fox) attention, with Ronnie saying "mine" after they both notice her swimming in a bikini.
  • Hall Pass (2011)
    Coakley tells Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) at a club that, "ok, boys, you're on the clock now" as if meeting women is a competition with a timer.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)
    The entire movie is literally having a woman be a prize to be won. Scott Pilgrim has to defeat Ramona Flower's seven evil exes in order to date her in scenes that are spoofed to look like playing a video game.
  • The Guardian (2006)
    Jake Fischer bets $100 he can get any woman in the bar to leave with him in under a minute, and a fellow cadet picks a target. His lines don't work but the woman (Emily Thomas) detects the game and suggests they leave together and split the money he bet.
  • Colin (Matt Damon) aggressively pursues Madolyn (Vera Farmiga) in a crowded elevator even holding the doors open after she gets off making people wait until she agrees to go out with him and gives him her business card.
  • Model Ava Fontaine is depicted as a dream woman for Yuri Orlov to win with him saying, "I've worshiped Ava Fontaine since I was ten years old." So after he makes a lot of money illegally selling arms, he sets up a phony photoshoot so he can win her over. As also according to Yuri, "You can't force someone to fall in love with you but, you can definitely improve your odds" as he escorts her to a plane he rented to try to impress her. He narrates the scene, "It cost me twenty grand to book her for a fake photo shoot, another twelve to buy out the hotel. I nearly went broke trying to convince her I was anything, but I knew Ava wasn't the kind of woman that would be seduced by a ride in a private jet unless you owned the jet." It succeeds and they kiss on the plane, but Yuri later admits, "The problem with dating dream girls is that they have a tendency to become real." They get married though and have a son. Yuri narrates about their marriage, "She never asked how a guy in the transport could afford to give her eighteen karat diamond earrings. I guess she didn't really want to hear the answer. She seemed content that I was a good provider." Later, ATF agent Jack Valentine says to Yuri on who turned on him, "it was your wife, your trophy wife that led us to the prize."
  • John (Owen Wilson) pursues Claire despite knowing that she has a serious boyfriend and is convinced that if he just gets "some alone time with her" then she'll leave her boyfriend and get with him.
  • Sophie rejects Agent Lloyd's advances multiple times but then he eventually wins her over and they start dating.
  • Mark is Peter's best man at his wedding despite being secretly in love with Peter's soon to be wife, Juliet. Mark videotapes much of the wedding, but focused the entirety of his filming on Juliet. She later sees the video and realizes Mark is in love with her. You'd think that would be the end of it, but Mark showed up to her and Peter's house on Christmas eve with a boombox playing "Silent Night" and large note cards that tell how madly in love he is with her. Instead of being mortified that her husband's best friend is expressing his undying love for her she giggles and laughs at some of Mark's cards and, as he walks away, she runs after him and gives him a passionate kiss on the mouth before going back inside to her husband.
    Staff Aside
    I mean...what the freaking F!?
  • Ocean's Eleven (2001)
    Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) wins his ex-wife (Juliet Roberts) back from Terry Benedict as part of an elaborate plan to steal $150 million dollars from a casino vault.
  • Bridget Joness Diary (2001) | Men Competing for the Same Woman
    Mark (Colin Firth) angrily tells Daniel (Hugh) to step outside of Bridget's (Renée Zellweger) apartment and when they both are outside Mark says "I should have done this year ago" and proceeds to punch him square in the face. Daniel asks him "what the f*ck do you think you're doing" and Mark responds "this" before punching him in the face again. Instead of trying to break up the fight, Bridget's friend runs into a restaurant and excitedly yells "fight! Well, quick! It's a real fight!" and four waiters and the manager run outside to watch and egg on two grown men fight in a scene that lasted an absurdly long two minutes and thirty-eight seconds.
    Additional Tropes: Assault Played for Laughs
  • She's All That (1999)
    The main theme of the movie is that Freddie Prinze Jr. can turn any girl at their high school into prom queen in six weeks. Not surprisingly, his friend picks a quiet and reclusive girl who doesn't have many friends. Also not surprisingly, the nerdy and reclusive girl looks absolutely amazing after a makeover.
  • There's Something About Mary (1998) | Men Competing for the Same Woman
    Ted (Ben Stiller), Healy (Matt Dillon), Tucker (Lee Evans) & later Dom (Chris Elliott) all compete for Mary's attention throughout the movie trying to win her over. She is depicted as the cliched perfect woman who likes to do things that women are falsely stereotyped are not liking.
  • Billy pursues Ms. Vaughn from the first moment he sees her even though he's technically a student and she's a teacher. At first she isn't remotely interested in Billy considering he's preposterously immature, but he is relentless and she eventually falls for him.
  • Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Slater (Mario Lopez) barge into Kelly's (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) bedroom to demand she pick one of them as her date to prom.
  • Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Slater (Mario Lopez) nearly come to blows competing over who gets to date Kelly Kapowski. Zach even accuses Slater of trying "to move in on my girl" as if she is property to have dibs on. He also says, "think of the man hours I put in" over the past 2 years as if that entitles him to date her as she is the "reward" for the work put in.
  • Lloyd calls a classmate out of the blue who doesn’t know him, and he asks her out over the phone. She says she is busy, but he keeps asking is she's available different days. She tries to say no multiple times until she finally relents under pressure. And then, she has to look him up in yearbook after hanging up.
  • Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) says he's going to make Bud Fox "rich enough, you can afford a girl like Darien (Darryl Hannah)" who he has shown interest in.
    Staff Aside
    Women are apparently objects you can buy to Gordon and Bud. And Darien likes to spend a lot of money apparently so you have to be rich to afford her lifestyle.
    Historical Context
    For additional context, Michael Douglas won an Oscar for best actor as his role as Gordon Gekko and Darryl Hannah got a "Razzie" for worst supporting actress. If writers treat you like an object, you're not going to get much to work with in the script as an actor.
  • Maverick (Tom Cruise) makes a bet with his best friend Goose (Anthony Edwards) about whether he can have "carnal knowledge" of a woman at a bar. He and Goose do their routine and Maverick sings "You've Lost That Love & Feeling" to Charlie (Kelly McGillis) as his fellow pilots join in. She declines his invitation to join him and goes to her date's table instead. Undeterred, Maverick follows her into the women's restroom to try again to get her to go out with him. He "crashes and burns" but eventually his over pursuing works and they start a relationship.
    Staff Aside
    Imagine how many times women had to put up with overly aggressive men who won't take no for an answer after having this iconic scene eventually pay off for Maverick in Top Gun. Or guys making bets about having sex -- oops I mean *carnal knowledge" -- with a woman you meet at a bar. Picture this same scene replacing 'carnal knowledge' with 'sex' and it becomes awkward and weird.