Posted by: pcordell | October 15, 2012

Why won’t men identify as women?

Women are rarely represented accurately in American film . (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler 2012, p.275)   Almost exclusively, women characters have to be a man’s fantasy to be included in the story narrative.

As author and critic John Berger states:

One might simplify this by saying men act and women appear.  Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.  (Berger 1972, p.47)

It isn’t as if compelling films of women leaders aren’t being made (Cate Blanchett’s “Elizabeth,” 1998, or Meryl Streep’s “The Iron Lady,”  2011 ) nor haven’t been made in the distant past.

An old Greta Garbo film “Ninotchka” (1939) revolved around a professional business woman. Instead of a subservient homemaker, Garbo’s character was very strong, independent and intellectual as “a stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business…a higher ranking official…a no nonsense woman.”  (IMDb 2012, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031725/)

According to the authors of our textbook, film theorist and filmmaker Laura Mulvey argues:

... in many mainstream films audiences are invited to identify with men and objectify women, regardless of whether they are male or female. Thus female audiences are asked to look through a male perspective, to see things through men’s eyes.  (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler 2012, p.275)

Conversely, why aren’t movie makers expecting men to look through female eyes?  Isn’t this an indication of a greater ill, in not only our American culture, in many societies, that our cultures don’t fully accept women as equals and that males are afraid to identify as female?

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