Progressive Feminism in The Big Lebowski

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Throughout The Big Lebowski, the Dude’s laid-back, pleasure-loving lifestyle is entertaining and endearing to both male and female viewers, and his personality and progressive values are at odds with the patriarchal, sexist society in which he abides. One the film’s great appeals is due, in considerable part, to his easy-going personality and progressive principles. Female roles in this work and the Dude’s pro-feminist ideals work together to push a storyline of progressive feminism. It is important to understand this concept within the film because it influences character’s actions and drives the plot. By examining the Dude’s personal beliefs and Maude’s role in the film, viewers can better understand how and why the narrative unfolds and reaches a resolution.
One way the Dude displays his feminist inclinations by recognizing society’s commodification of the female body. At one point the Dude states, “Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women,” about a pornographer named Jackie Treehorn. This inverted observation points to a certain progressive awareness. When he sees Logjammin’, a film directed by Treehorn and starring Bunny Lebowski, his response is witty and sarcastic. Maude verbalizes how “ludicrous” the story is and the Dude responds critically with a somewhat unexpected sharpness. Even when the Dude encounters Treehorn he is unimpressed by his ambitions. He sees through the director’s artistic pretensions and his skepticism is outlined when Treehorn says, “I deal in publishing, entertainment, political advocacy” to which the Dude replies, “Which one’s Logjammin?”.
The Dude’s first meeting with Maude at her loft is eye-catching and literally over the top. Passing directly over him, she sails nude through the air on ropes befor...

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...e attempts to present himself as, and is instead given “a reasonable allowance” by Maude. Maude helps The Dude gather information and get ahead of the schemes surrounding him. She also ruptures her father’s masculine vanity and shines a light on the true background of the storyline. Maude’s father highlights how patriarchy is shown to be fraudulent in the Big Lebowski.
The ending contains a satisfying resolution for both genders, assuring the audience that, “there’s a little Lebowski on the way”. While this may not offer the typical romantic movie ending, both the protagonist and his “lady friend” get what they want: Maude is blessed with a child and the Dude returns to his old, peaceful life. The Big Lebowski acknowledges female reproductive activity and power while offering an amusing, rebellious portrait of masculinity, proposing that the future is matriarchal.

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