Representations Of Gender In The Past
Summary Of Key Points
Women and Men on TV:
· In the 50s, 60s and 70s, only 20% of characters were female, although by the mid 80s there were more women in leading roles.
· In 1975, Miles found that there were nearly equal proportions of men and women in situation comedies, whereas in action-adventure shows, only 15% of leading characters were women.
· Also in 1975, McNeil concluded that the women’s movement had been largely ignored by television, with married housewives being the main female role shown.
· The 70’s summarised – In general, men were more likely to be assertive (or aggressive), whilst women were more likely to be passive.
· 1980s – TV remained stubborn, with game shows not bothering to change their ‘degrading and trivialising views of women’, sports programming remaining ‘the preserve of men’, and news programmes accused of tokenism or ‘window dressing’ by including some women in key positions whilst retaining a male-dominated culture.
· 1980s TV Drama – Gillian Dyer observed that the number of women in central roles in police ad crime series had increased – Rape story lines were often used and this was an opportunity for programme makers to build drama around the feminist critique of police attitudes, and for female characters to clash with the ‘old guard’ who might not treat rape sensitively.
Women and Men in Movies:
· 1950’s – Films almost always focused on male heroes who typically made the decisions which led the story, and were assertive, confident and dominant. (Examples being High Noon (1952) and Touch Of Evil (1959))
· 1960’s – The sixties may have been changing with character roles, but male characters were consistently more intelligent, more assertive – and much more prevalent.
· 1970’s – Females were given greater roles – Leia from Star Wars (1977) was a rebel who shot storm troopers but was still the prized princess the heroic boys had to rescue and Woody Allen found success with films like Manhattan (1979) where she played an intelligent woman who captured the eye of a male leading character.
· In 1973, Majorie Rosen asserted that ‘the Cinema Woman is a Popcorn Venus, a delectable but insubstantial hybrid of cultural distortions.
· 1980’s – Further progress the female roles was made. Ripley became stronger in Aliens (1986) and Sarah Connor was courageous in The Terminator (1984). Meanwhile, the reliable heroic male still featured prominently in most films, including the Indiana Jones series (1981, 1984, 1989).
· 1990’s – Kathi Maio noted ‘strong, victorious women [do] exist in film, just not often enough, and generally not in movies that get much play’. Susan Faludi went a step further by saying women were being ‘reduced to mute and incidental characters or banished altogether’, with particular reference to Predator (1987) and Lethal Weapon (1987).