January 3, 2011

Lady Parts: Depictions of Women in Film & Television

As your typical American child with pre-occupied and busy parents, I was raised by a television. My worldview is likely shaped by TV more than I realize and more than I'm willing to accept. I became completely immersed in the medium when we installed a DVR system in my home that allowed me to have all of the shows I wanted to watch in one place at my own convenience. Likewise, I did not become truly passionate about film until I discovered the joy of torrenting and video pirating.

One day while in college, I had the spontaneous realization that movies were my one true love and they became my focus of study. It became more and more evident in my film classes, though I've never used the personal identifier of, "feminist,"that I always pointed out the way women were portrayed in the story. I soon learned of a feminist evaluation of film called The Bechdel Test which simply assesses whether or not a movie contains a conversation between two women on a topic other than a man. I was shocked to discover the enormous amount of films that fail the test.

Women, as one of the two traditionally-accepted genders, have clearly been present in the media of film & television since each of their inceptions. The portrayal of the female, however, has remained far less static than that of the male. Traditional archetypes of homemaker, mother, and temptress as seen through American TV and movies served as a reflection of the social and cultural roles of woman. These media not only reinforced notions about women of the time, but shaped them. They have especially shaped our collective memory of the function American women served in the first half of the 20th century; like our perception of women in the '50s through the lens of characters like June Cleaver. I intend to examine all of these facets here over the next several weeks.


  1. Who are your favorite feminist movie characters? This is relevant to my interests. But seriously.

  2. As a recently self-discovered feminist, I'm super interested in hearing what you have to say about the portrayal of women in the media. I also intend to uncover this behavior in my blog.

  3. Awesome ;-)I already learned something new from your post. I'm excited to hear what's next...I also love the graphic

  4. This isn't film or television, but it's still media. I figured you might be interested in seeing this. http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-salad/