Gender in Film Aims: 1. To understand how film constructs and upholds gender roles 2. To understand basic feminist theory, including the Gaze 3. To be able to apply gender theories to specific film genres Objectives 1. By the end of the session, learners will be able to analyse a clip of their choice, focussing on gender.
GENDER IN FILM MEN Women• Play active roles which • Play passive roles drive the narrative • Objects for the male• Physically and mentally gaze strong • Produced to gratify• Outnumbered females male viewers• Allowed to look or ‘gaze’ at • Bearers of children women • In need of protection• Looking is an active • Not independent – in undertaking need of male support• Dominant• ProtectorsMulvey: ‘Women, in any fully human form, have almostcompletely been left out of film…’
Traditional Film• On screen: clearly defined roles mimicking and enforcing social norms• Women, did women things, men did men things…• Molly Haskell argues that dominant ideology required women to marry and bear children. ‘This stigma becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy’.
Women as ImageMan as Bearer of the Look THE GAZE • Theory created by Laura Mulvey in 1970s • Argued that… ‘In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has split between active / male and passive / female.’ • Men looked at women who were styled accordingly. • ‘It is said that analysing pleasure or beauty, destroys it. That is the intention of this article.
The Gaze• Spectators then, whether male or female, adopted an active male position.• This meant women had to view films secondarily and from the view point of a male.• Like this:
The Gaze• Jonathan Schroeder (1998), ‘to gaze implies more than to look at – it signifies a psychological relationship of power, in which the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze.’.• So, because the gaze is predominantly male, it reaffirms gender roles, male as the dominant sex.• Check out these two music videos and consider the differences between the two:
The Gaze• Although it may appear that ‘gazing’ is merely looking at someone, it signifies a relationship of power in which the holder of the gaze is superior to the object of the gaze.• Revolves around Freud’s theories regarding the pleasures of looking. Scopophillia and Voyeurism• Scopophillia subjects people to a ‘controlling’ and ‘curious’ gaze.• According to Mulvey, there are two cinematic processes work together in a cinematic text:1. Voyeuristic objectification of female characters2. Narcisisstic identification of Male charcaters• As a result of these two processes, the audience is masculinised
Gender! Judith Butler• Wrote a book called Gender Trouble which argued that: ‘gender should be seen as a fluid variable which shifts and changes in different contexts and at different times.’• She argues that sex (male, female) is seen to cause gender (masculine, feminine) which is seen to cause desire (towards the other gender).• Butlers approach is basically to smash the supposed links between these, so that gender and desire are flexible, free-floating and not caused by other stable factors.
Gender Performance Judith Butler• She also argues that we all put on a gender performance• This requires a firm understanding of how to ‘do’ gender• So, a man would have to perform what asked to act like a female.• However, they subconsciously have to perform being male too – Think about the stereotypical things guys and gals do…• Now think of this in filmic terms…
1980s Muscle Culture• The 1980s was a time when masculinity was overtly displayed, most obviously through the action genre• Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)• Kick Boxer (1989)• Predator (1987)• Lethal Weapon (1987)• Die Hard (1988)• The Terminator (1988)• Women were void from these films and when they did appear, they were simply motivation for men…
Action Quotes…. Jeffery Brown: ‘…the muscular male body hasbecome the genre’s central trade mark…’. Jeffery Brown: ‘All that was required of an actresswas an innocently sexual appearance and a readyscream.’. Yvonne Tasker: ‘…an almost exclusively male space,in which issues to do with sexuality and genderedidentity can be worked out over the body…’. Yvonne Tasker: ‘… women are hysterical figures whoneed to be rescued or protected…’
ALEINS (1986) • Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver challenged cultural norms • Strong and relatively dominant • Active • Dominant • However, she is still arguably a sexual object
Guess the Link JAMES CAMERONA E RL N AI S M BJeanine Basinger: ‘Putting women in traditional male Oaction roles, without changing their psychology, is justcinematic cross-dressing…’
The Final Girl…• Carol Clover• The final girls is a the woman who is left at the end of a horror movie.• Sexually unavailable / virgins• Becomes macsulinised by adopting phallic symbols• Sometimes have ambiguous names (Sidney)• Clover argues that men are able to cheer the final girl, purely because they are coded as male.
The 1990s• Films in the 90s responded to the general stereotypical depictions of genders.• Reaction against films from the 1980s.• Aliens had allowed women to adopt a new role in film.• Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise (1991)• Linda Hamilton in Terminator II (1992)• Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs (1991)• Yvonne Tasker: defined by a quality of "musculinity" and enactment of a muscular masculinity involving a display of power and strength over the body of the female performer.’
Terminator I & II• In The Terminator, Sarah In Terminator II, Connors adopted the she has changed stereotypical female action both mantally and actress… physically…
Susan Jeffords‘This new Sarah Connors looks like the mercenary shehas trained to be through all the intervening years,wearing military fatigues, toting heavy weapons andhaving a mission to perform. As final proof, of her newhard character she even forgets to love her son we arewitness to how Sarah ignores her son for most of thefilm. The excuse that she’s concentrating on keeping himalive puts her in direct competition for the Terminator’srole, and body And while she is focussing on being asuper-soldier, the Terminator is working on being abetter mom, listening to and playing with the son thatSarah hardly notices for all the weapons she’s carrying.’Analyse this clip…
Guns ‘n’ Muscles. Susan Bordo: ‘…muscles have chiefly sybolised andcontinue to symbolise masculine power as physicalstrength, frequently operating as a means of coding thenaturalness of sexual difference.’. Laurie Schulze: Social attitudes towards femalebodybuilders – ‘just trying to be men’ accused of beinglesbians.. Jeffery Brown: ‘Sarah Connors (Linda Hamilton) was,according to New York magazine, ‘the power body: armsand shoulders packed with muscle, the straight thickwaist, the boys hips, no ass, the bosom so small itdoesn’t require a bra and arms with rivers of veins risingabove the muscle’’