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  1. How is Paikea a female counter-stereotype? Use the “female gaze” theory to describe how the film and the character fit this model of the female perspective and female “voice”. Use the web link provided in Week 11 module on the Female Gaze (the Rubaiyat Hossain article, “Female Directors, Female Gaze”).

Paikea is a counter stereotype because in no way does she play the role of a traditional woman. Paikea is a young girl filled with courage and determination who against her grandfather’s wishes she practices her heritage to fulfil her destiny. The female gaze is the story is told in her perspective narrating her struggles and emotions. An example of when Paikea shows she is a counter stereotype is when her grandfather breaks the rope trying to fix the boat motor and when he leaves she is able to get it started no problem. Her grandfather does not award her but instead scolds her. When she was born her grandfather would say why weren’t you born a boy, he continued to shun her away and discourage her from being with the boys and learning her tradition but she never showed anger or disrespect towards him. Paikea was brave enough to stand up against someone she respected; she silently would prove to her grandfather that she was special even after she was so underestimated. In the Female Gaze article, the Rubaiyat Hossain states “As women we need to run free with our desires to come to a place when and where we know who we are and what we desire.” Paikea has it in her heart what she wants to do and she is very determined to prove everyone wrong. She never gave up or second guessed her decisions leading her to achieve her grandfathers’ respect and become a hero.

  1. How is Whale Rider a statement of empowerment for women and girls? How does Paikea challenge gendered expectations? Use scenes/characterization/dialogue from the film to give examples.

Whale Rider is a statement of empowerment for women because it shows that a woman can do anything a man can do and achieve greatness. In most stories it is the male that is the hero, like in traditional stories the prince always is there to save the damsel in distress however in this story it is the woman that proves everyone wrong to fulfil her destiny. She had no support from anyone, had her role model have no faith in her and was told to stop trying just because she was not a boy. Her grandfather had his mind set that the Whale Rider had to be a boy, he tried to force how he wanted things to be rather than step back and believe in his granddaughter. Paikea sets a huge example that no matter who you are if you have faith in yourself and have enough courage to stand up for what you believe in the possibilities are endless.

  1. How is Whale Rider an example of “counter-cinema” and the “female gaze”? Use the 1990’s Lecture notes in Week 11 Module to help with this answer and the “Hollywood” article by Kord and Krimmer in the course package.  

Counter-cinema is defined as “cinema that stands in opposition to the dominant forms of Hollywood. The ‘female gaze’ cinema, authentic cinema, “real” cinema, independent cinema…..” in the 1990’s & Beyond lecture. Hollywood still portrays women in the traditional role; the damsel in distress. Whale Rider is a counter-cinema because it shows a woman in the complete opposite role as traditionally played. Paikea is courageous and strong and fulfills her destiny by herself against all odds and the disapproval of her own grandfather. It is a female gaze because the story is told by Paikea and she describes how she feels and how she wants things to be.


HOSSAIN , R. (2011). Female directors, female gaze.Female Directors, Female Gaze: The Search for Female Subjectivity in Film, 5(5), 1. Retrieved from

Kord, Susanne and Krimmer, Elisabeth (2005). Hollywood – from Hollywood Divas, Indie Queens, and TV Heroines. Cancopy, the course reader


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