In the span of a movie franchise that has spanned over three decades, Sarah Connor is considered a feminist icon by many. Director James Cameron has lauded his character for her contribution to feminism. “She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit,” Cameron said in an interview with The Guardian. But as Patty Jenkins pointed out on Twitter, women can be more than one thing. This makes Sarah’s sudden transformation in the final scene of “The Terminator” a poor representation of women.
After Sarah learns that her son John is meant to lead the human resistance in a fight against machines, she immediately sheds all femininity. In the movie’s final scene, Sarah is suddenly hard and tough, with all previous traces of her personality erased. Many fans on Twitter agree that this has not aged well. “James Cameron subscribes to the problematic & entangled Ripley/Sarah Connor movie trope that strong women have to act/look a certain way,” states @JBraverman1 on Twitter. Some fans on Reddit agree to this point. “Notice that the characters they cite as ‘strong female characters’ are basically characters who are strong in spite of being women than strong because they’re women,” says Redditor u/rattatatouille. This scene implies that in order to be significant, women have to act more like men and give up any traits that are coded as feminine.