Several factors influence the way a society views men and women. One of the factors relates to patriarchy as part of the society. Traditional societies that form the basis of modern societies were based on the need for women to remain home while taking care of children. However, since the introduction of feminist movements, a woman is no longer confined to the home. Apart from the society, movies and films play a role in reinforcing gender roles and patriarchy manifested in traditional societies. This paper examines how gender is represented and constructed on modern movies. Discussion is based on review of relevant literature.
According to Smith (12), women are represented in movies based on their physical appearance. The audience judges women based on sexual attractiveness and appeal to the wider society. In particular, Dr Smith asserts that women are still viewed as objects to be admired in movies. Smith reviewed popular films and TV programs. In most cases, young and attractive women are used in women. Age as a factor of genderaffects the ability of women to act in movies and films. On the contrary, a man’s worth and contribution in movies increases as they age. The ability to be attractive to the audience as well as a society obsessed with sexual images projects women as inferior members of the society.
Paynter (16) assert that women are stereotyped and underrepresented in movies, children picture books, and other media sources. Stereotypes developed against women have existed in children’s picture books since 1970s. The aim of the researcher was to determine whether stereotypes had changed within ten years. Paynter notes that negative stereotypes against women have progressed in the society through negative treatment of women in popular culture over a long period of time. Portrayal of women as objects of desire has been part of the society even before the introduction of movies and TV programs.
Weitzman (1125) writes that women are highly stereotyped in picture books. A key assumption related to negative roles assigned to women in most movies. For instance, women are given roles of serving male counterparts. Furthermore, women roles center on sex and the need to appeal to the male gender. Weitzman asserts that women are represented in the light of traditional patriarchal roles where a woman’s place is in home environment. A patriarchal society has led to the notion that women should be passive while men become active in other sphere of life.
Gauntlet (23) asserts that movies play a vital role in the lives of people. As a result, media influence how the society perceives the world. Images of women and stereotypes developed based on sexual representations affects how people create their identities in the society. Gauntlet (23) notes that women and men are viewed differently through the media. For example, the movie ‘sex in the city’ contains sexual images depicting the role of women in the society. Women are portrayed as sexual partners who have minimum influence on other aspects of the society.
Stephens (14) argues that women are portrayed as having lower and shorter career status than men. On the contrary, men depend on their career success to thrive in the society. A low and short career status of women is attributed to their appearance and sexuality. However, certain levels of subjectivity are evident among researchers on gender. In most cases, rarely do researchers consider both sides when discussing gender. As a result, gender studies are largely focused on negative portrayal of women in movies and films. Even when a movie has positive portrayal of the feminine gender, researchers prefer to look at negative themes.
According to Benshoff and Griffin (201), Hollywood films have been criticized for representing men and women in traditional ways. Hollywood films have been researched in relation to their role in portraying women negatively in the society. The existence of political messages and ideologies in Hollywood films shows that there is some level of opposition to current social systems. Hollywood films are still portraying patriarchal roles in the society. Even at the time when feminism is a key aspect of the society, Hollywood still produces films and movies representing women as inferior to men. In particular, movies have ignored feminist movement attempts to eradicate traditional patriarchal thinking that continues to affect the feminine gender. Gender as a patriarchal privilege is still common as part of Hollywood movies.
Movies from Disney have also been criticized for portraying women negatively based on patriarchal ideologies. For instance, the movie ‘pretty woman’ portrays a women as an attractive, independent, and self-employed person. However, the movie reinforces the fact that the ‘pretty woman’ is just a street hooker as a member of the lower class (Nepales 42). Women in the upper class are viewed as being suitable candidates for marriage than women in lower social class. Even in upper social class where women have careers, they are still viewed as marriage materials that make men complete. A man becomes a sensitive human being when they marry women from upper class capable of performing a wife’s roles as outlined in traditional societies thus the two scenarios do clash since the positivity of the woman is not seen as a good thing to the society. The other scenario ironically makes the woman be seen of positive energy to the society because of her hard work despite the type of job activities she does.
Movie series such as ‘sex and the city’ have characters which possess certain characteristics. In most cases, characteristics of characters are viewed in relation to race, gender, education, and economic independence. Most modern movies have been created in post feminist era. During this period, anti-feminism is reflected within movies and TV series. Gender is represented in movies and TV series as cosmetic and behavioral changes in the society (Lantagne, par 5). In particular, a woman has certain expectations that the society demands so that they become part of the ideal society. Women are represented as sexual objects that should be attractive to men.
Radner and Stringer (21) assert that during early years of movie production, women were represented as care givers. Women had a role to reproduce children while taking care of homes. Researchers argue that such ideologies in representation have changed in the modern society. Women are no longer viewed as care givers expected to stay at home to provide care to children. Modern movies represent women as crucial component of labor force. However, despite progress in the society, modern movies concentrate on the role of women as unequal partner to a man.
Images of bad women have been represented in movies and films. In particular, equalization of women is common in modern society. Furthermore, the moral story of most movies is that women end up experiencing bad things while men are no punished for their wrongs. As a result, a modern woman has developed the notion that they have to behave as ‘a good woman’ so that they avoid negative consequences from the society (Spade and Catherine, 44).
In the advent of feminist movements in the United States, movies represented women as ‘criminal radicals’ or ‘mad women’. In the modern society, women have managed to earn equal rights and privileges.
The way movies reinforce gender roles has an influence on how the society views and perceives women. Certain characters and features in movies strengthen the image on how a woman should behave in the society. Underrepresentation of women in movies is part of themes identified in research. In cases whereby women are represented, they are viewed as sexual objects that satisfy the needs of a man. In modern movies, a woman should always strive to be beautiful so that they get married. Even when a woman has a career, they can never live a happy life without a husband. Women are viewed as economically independent but spend resources on their sexual image.
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