of Women in
The treatment of women
in film is
related to the broader
historical context, the
the extent to which
women were shown as
active or passive, and
the amount of screen
time given to women.
• Mulvey’s work is influenced by the theories
of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan
• She suggested that women are objectified
and connoted “to-be-looked-at-ness” in
• They become an object of desire and are
positioned for the erotic pleasure of the male
• They are positioned for the ‘male gaze’
• Mulvey suggests that there were two distinct
modes of the male gaze: "voyeuristic" (i.e.
seeing women as 'whores') and "fetishistic"
(i.e. seeing women as 'madonnas').
Molly Haskell: From Reverence to
Woman's film characters
• Three types of women characters appear in the woman's film,
according to Haskell: (160-62)
The Extraordinary woman
– For example, characters played by Katharine Hepburn and
– These women portray strong, powerful figures.
The Ordinary woman
– These women are common, passive, and often a victim.
– They are precursors to soap opera characters.
The Ordinary who becomes extraordinary woman.
– The victims who rise, or endure.
• She suggests that women in films are concerned with both the domestic and
the romantic are they are both entwined
• She outlines the following narrative themes that women are involved in;
– A woman must sacrifice herself for her children.
– Her children for their own welfare.
– Marriage for her lover.
– Her lover for marriage or for his own welfare.
– Her career for love.
– Love for her career.
– Women holds a secret. An illness or disease.
– Martyrdom is proportionate to guilt.(170)
– Normally two suitors.
– Commonly the male is only curable by "her." The man is a clergyman or
– The heroine must do battle with the woman whose (husband, fiance,
lover) she loves.
Carol Clover Men, Women and
•According to Clover, the final girl is typically sexually unavailable or virginal,
avoiding the vices of the victims – de-sexualized so not to have sexual appeal to
•She sometimes has a unisex name(e.g., Teddy, Billie, Georgie, Sidney). Thus,
making some affiliation with males.
•During the final girl’s confrontation with the killer, Clover argues, she becomes
masculinized through "phallic appropriation" by taking up a weapon, such as a
knife or chainsaw against the killer. Again, suggesting that whilst women can be
heroic and independent they depend on men.
•Clover argues that for a film to be successful, although the Final Girl is
masculinized, it is necessary for this surviving character to be female, because
she must experience abject terror, and many viewers would reject a film that showed abject terror on
the part of a male. So masculinity is still championed.
• The more closely that a man conforms to expected and what we have all
come to accepts as traditional characteristics of masculinity, the closer he
is to being a “real man.” As Brannon pointed out, the pressure is strong to
live up to this idealization of masculinity.
• Connell suggests that one version of masculinity is sanctioned as the one
to which men should adhere, which he termed hegemonic masculinity.
This version of masculinity attempts to subordinate femininity as well as
less accepted versions of masculinity, such as male homosexuality. It is one
that champions patriarchal control and one which Western society has
come to “normalize” and manipulate society to view as “common sense”.
• Bereska (2003) argues that despite masculinity undergoing drastic changes
in recent times,evidence indicates little change in hegemonic masculinity
and strong representation of the four themes of the male sex role (stoic,
aggressive, dependable and not feminine).
• Hegemonic masculinity is competitive and
reflects a tendency for males to seek to
dominate other males and subordinate
• Characteristics such as drive, ambition, claims
to self-reliance, and heterosexuality.
• McCormack defines other hegemonic traits:
“homophobic, misogynistic, and aggressive
• Hypermasculinity is a term for the exaggeration
of male stereotypical behaviour, such as an
emphasis on physical strength, aggression, body
hair, body odour, and virility.
• Mosher and Sirkin (1984) have operationally
defined hypermasculinity or the “macho
personality" as consisting of the following three
variables: a) "callous sexual attitudes toward
women", b) "the belief that violence is manly",
and c) "the experience of danger as exciting"
Create spider diagrams for the characters in your
trailer. Note down key terms that describe their
personality/representation then outline how
each of these aspects has been constructed
(sound, cinematography, editing and mise-en