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Unit 26: Film Studies Feminism

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Dominic Hand

on 4 October 2013

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Transcript of Unit 26: Film Studies Feminism

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women".
Feminist film theory started in the early 1970's where films were looked at in relation to the stereotyping of women within specific narratives or genres.
Explain how these women are percieved in these two clips.
In cinema women are represented in a specific way due to the industry being dominated by men. The focus was that all readings were from a male perspective.
Claire Johnston wrote about film and in her 1973 article 'Women's Cinema as Counter Cinema' she believed woman have always been stereotyped in films, however cinema should change these conventions.
"It's probably true to say that despite the enormous emphasis placed on woman as spectacle in the cinema, woman as woman is largely absent".
Place this quote in the context of these two clips.
Laura Mulvey is the most famous writer from the feminist movement, she wrote two seminal articles the first in 1975 entitled 'Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema, the second was a follow up in 1981 called 'Afterthoughts on Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema'.
In her first article, Mulvey claimed that the pleasure of looking was a male pleasure from which she coined the term 'the male gaze'. She felt that women had two roles, both of which were as an icon;
Women are the erotic object for the character.
Women are the erotic object for the spectator.
Due to this concept there were two types of gaze.
Voyeurism - the pleasure linked viewing to sexual attraction.
The viewing being linked to narcissistic identification (putting ourselves in the shoes of the hero or heroine).
Mulvey concludes that this is born within cinemas traditional codes and conventions which make females passive. i.e. Men are seen as the hero, they use phalic objects which give them power.
Women are seen as a threat through the constructs of repressed desires or fear of castration. Women have no power and are thus passive.
In her 1981 article, Mulvey explored the possibility of the female spectator, suggestting she can gain pleasure from a male text.
Mulvey's other point was, how the text and the spectator are affected by the centrality of a female character in the narrative.
In Hitchcock's films he made both men and women objects of the look, this can be seen in Rear Window How is Jimmy Stewart's character seen as an object in this film?
Compare these two clips from Terminator 2 and Erin Brokovich.
What similarities and differences are there in terms of feminism?
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