It is a common assumption that gender related arguments are reduced to mere binary opposites (e.g., Man v Woman, Heterosexual v Homosexual)
Within mainstream cinema (i.e., Hollywood) women are perceived to be as victims or even as passive (audience)
Man is dominant – largely due to perceived notions of the patriarchal social infrastructure
Many theorists focus on the notion that society continually reinforces the construct of the ‘norm’ and ‘the other’
This construct extends across and upholds many assumptions that we absorb within our everyday life
These include: men as dominant decision makers, women as passive, heterosexuality as socially acceptable and homosexuality as immoral, white as clean/pure and black as dirty/tainted
The relationship of Self to Other is a relationship of normality to marginality, and is always a power relationship ? a binary opposition or violent hierarchy. The Other can be different from the Norm in a variety of senses: race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, etc.. http://www.english.ltsn.ac.uk/events/archive/elearning/docs/staffs/Holland_Arrowsmith/Critical%20Concepts%20edit.htm
Feminism is not a new concept nor is it restricted to one definition
The stereotype of the feminist is that of a bra burning, butch, man hating, outspoken lesbian. However…
The following represent a small sample of the many varied definitions attributed to feminism:
Amazon feminism is dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as it is expressed in art and literature, in the physiques and feats of female athletes, and in sexual values and practices.
Amazon feminism is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender role stereotypes and discrimination against women based on assumptions that women are supposed to be, look or behave as if they are passive, weak and physically helpless.
Marxist feminism as a theoretical construct is a hybrid born of the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s. Before that time, Marxist theorists, to the extent that they were concerned with the situation of women, addressed what they termed "the woman question" and concluded that the "emancipation" of women would occur only with the destruction of capitalism and the construction of socialism, in which women would be freed from dependency on men and be involved in "productive" labour. (Roxanne Dunbar)
I think that most radical feminists and socialist feminists would agree with my capsule characterization of feminism as far as it goes. The trouble with radical feminism, from a socialist feminist point of view, is that it doesn't go any farther. It remains transfixed with the universality of male supremacy-things have never really changed; all social systems are patriarchies; imperialism, militarism, and capitalism are all simply expressions of innate male aggressiveness. And so on.
The problem with this, from a socialist feminist point of view, is not only that it leaves out men (and the possibility of reconciliation with them on a truly human and egalitarian basis) but that it leaves out an awful lot about women. For example, to discount a socialist country such as China as a "patriarchy" -as I have heard radical feminists do--is to ignore the real struggles and achievements of millions of women. Socialist feminists, while agreeing that there is something timeless and universal about women's oppression, have insisted that it takes different forms in different settings, and that the differences are of vital importance. There is a difference between a society in which sexism is expressed in the form of female infanticide and a society in which sexism takes the form of unequal representation on the Central Committee. And the difference is worth dying for. ( Barbara Ehrenreich)
A branch of feminism that argues that gender equality can be achieved without challenging men as a group or changing basic economic and political arrangements such as capitalism . - Equality is primarily a matter of gaining equal legal rights and equal access to higher level statuses.
Argues that women’s oppression comes from the categorization of ‘women’ as an inferior class to the class ‘men’ on the basis of gender. Aims to destroy this sex-class system. Focuses on the roots of male domination and claims that all forms of oppression are extensions of male supremacy. ( www.personal.utulsa.edu/~lara-foley/definitions.htm )
Since we live in an era of constant economic and social change it is not enough to simply assume that arguments are cut and dried, especially in terms of gender
We cannot assume that every female spectator is passive, a feminist and/or associates with the (negative) representation of women within the media. Instead, we must seek to apply an appropriate historical context as well as a wider appreciation of the aims and objectives of the individual texts themselves