At the website Return of Kings, econ blogger Aaron Clarey reviles Mad Max: Fury Road as a trojan horse for feminist ideas:
This [movie] is the vehicle by which they are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat. This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic.Clarey is talking about the fact that a number of the female characters in the movie - including Charlize Theron's female lead - are tough warrior types who spend a lot of time shooting and otherwise killing big tough male baddies. He thinks that's unrealistic - in the real world, he seems to be saying, war is a man's job.
But actually, I can think of at least one good real-life analogue of the badass women of Mad Max (and of much of modern pop culture). It's the war in Syria and Iraq. The Kurdish militias who have been beating the crap out of ISIS in the north of Syria have substantial numbers of women in their ranks. Here, via War Nerd, are pictures of a couple of the women killed in combat with ISIS:
Normally, women are kept in noncombatant roles in Kurdish militias. But the pressure of the ISIS assault forced women to join the fight directly, and they have apparently been quite effective in battles like the one in Kobane. In fact, a woman is the commander of the Kurdish militias in Syria:
Meet Nassrin Abdallah. With her diminutive height and broad smile, it doesn't seem like she should strike fear into the hearts of hardened Islamic State jihadists. But this 36-year-old Syrian Kurd woman has been at the tip of the spear of the Kurdish forces that last month liberated the symbolic city of Kobane from IS militants...
As the head of the armed wing of the Kurdish PYD, "commander" Nassrin has led both men and women into battle against Islamic State fighters who have overrun large areas of Iraq and Syria...
According to Nassrin, around 40 percent of the Kurdish fighters battling over the town on the Syrian-Turkish border were women..
Some, like her, are hardened warriors but also joining their ranks were mothers who sent their children over the border to the safety of Turkey, then rushed off to join their sisters in arms...Fighting alongside Nassrin are other powerful female commanders who have achieved legendary status on the battlefield.
Women like Narine Afrin, who played a key role in the defence of Kobane. Or Arin Mirkan, who blew herself up on October 5, killing dozens of IS fighters encircling the town, according to Kurdish sources.
In total, there are 4,000 women fighting in the armed wing of the PYD [militia], say Kurdish officials, who refuse for strategic reasons to disclose the total number of people who have taken up arms.
Over and beyond the military aspect of the victory over IS in Kobane, it has been seen as a triumph for women, who are repressed in areas under IS control, obliged to wear the veil and, in the case of the Yazidi minority, forced into slavery.In fact, this pretty closely parallels the plot of Mad Max: Fury Road! Nassrin Abdallah is the real-life Imperator Furiosa, while ISIS is the real-life version of Immortan Joe and the Warboys.
And it's important to note that the women of the Kurdish militias haven't just been fighting, they've been winning. ISIS massively outnumbered and outgunned the Kurdish militias in a number of battles in northern Syria, but were soundly defeated.
So if men's natural physical advantages are not decisive (at least in the age of guns and explosives), why have most armies throughout history been mostly or exclusively male?
One reason is that men can't bear children. Over time, a warlike society's success depends on the number of soldiers it can throw at the enemy. If a male soldier gets killed, the loss of his sperm will not adversely impact the overall fertility of the tribe. But if a female soldier gets killed, the fertility of the tribe will go down, reducing the number of future soldiers. You really need to think of things in terms of expected discounted total soldiers. The math of protracted warfare favors sending men to die on the front lines, and keeping women in the rear to pump out new soldiers. (Yes, it sucks to live in a warlike society.)
Another reason is preference. Men, on average, are far more violent and aggressive than women. This means that more men will want to go to war, or at least hate it less.
So Aaron Clarey is wrong. Mad Max: Fury Road is not a piece of unrealistic feminist propaganda (though the Tumblr site Feminist Max Max is funny). What it actually is is a movie about - to use a Clarey phrase - "one man with principles, standing against many with none."