To avoid any misinterpretations of this story, I’m writing a breakdown of what everything represents as a way of hopefully dispelling any unnecessary offense. It’s possible that regardless, the message I’m trying to convey is fundamentally wrong, but hopefully this at least starts an interesting conversation. These are the characters in the story and what they represent…
Alex’s father represents the parts of society that tell women they have to essentially become men in order to be successful. He’s the voice that tells women trying to become leaders, businesswomen, CEO’s or lawyers that the world is unforgiving so they have to be cutthroat and just as vicious as the competition. Emotions make you fragile, vulnerability is a vice and any sign of weakness will disqualify you. Notice, however, that Alex’s father is the good guy. He’s not trying to put Alex in a box. He knows that if they don’t kill then the beasts will kill them first. He has perfectly good intentions because the environment really is unforgiving. So this voice isn’t fundamentally evil—it’s just not healthy if sustained over time.
Alex herself represents the women who buy into this either intentionally or unintentionally. They realize that the world really is unforgiving, so they suppress anything in them that’s soft, delicate, emotional, or “feminine” in order to appear stronger and have a better chance to succeed.
The beasts represent things in life that can only be handled with aggression. There are some things that you have to face head on and you have to be direct and not back down. You cannot finesse your way around them. Alex learning how to kill these beasts represents that women very much have the capacity to face these challenges and do what they need to do to get the job done. Alex fighting these beasts alongside her father is a picture that women can be direct, they can lead, they can produce, and they can perform alongside men.
While Alex’s father represents the part of society that wants to sacrifice femininity, Drexl represents the part that wants to abuse it. He’s a pimp running a brothel in an otherwise abandoned city. He tells the women that they’re not killers, that they’re beautiful, and that he’ll take care of them. But he only does so because it benefits him. He represents the voices that tell women their worth is only in their physical beauty and that they’re only good for sex.
Daisy and the girls who take Alex in represent two things. On the one hand they represent women who have bought into the idea that their worth is only in their physical beauty because they’re staying with Drexl instead of leaving him. But on the other hand, they represent women who use a darker side of femininity. Daisy tells Alex that a woman’s body controls the world and that men can never be trusted. This is the voice that says not only is the world unforgiving, but all men are unsafe, so they have to be manipulated at best or destroyed altogether at worst.
When Drexl brings Alex into the greenhouse, she’s handcuffed and about to be sedated for life. But pound for pound, she’s the most powerful person in that scene. And yet, she’s about to be basically killed and none of that strength is helping her. In the same way, women can often find themselves in a board meeting, a classroom, or a job interview where they are the smartest person in the room and the most qualified by a landslide. But there’s still a glass ceiling over them that they cannot break through.
Finally, Alexa’s father telling her to scream “like a girl”, represents allowing those sides of femininity that have been sacrificed to finally come to the surface again. Her scream shattering the greenhouse and killing Drexl represents the idea that women will not break the glass ceiling by becoming more like men, but by being allowed to be more like women. Ultimately, men and women are equal, but different. There are some things women are naturally much better at than men and their views of the world should to be represented and not suppressed.
And finally, the fact that it’s her scream and not her arrow or her bullet that frees her is a symbol of how powerful a woman’s voice really is. And the fact that her scream can shatter glass, but not her father’s, is a picture of how women’s voices can do things that men’s voices can’t.
I hope this was helpful, insightful, and inspirational. If you agree or disagree, please comment.