The Evolution of Female Characters in Film: How Hollywood is Slowly Improving on the Female Roles

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Introduction: What is the difference between a male and female character in film?

This article will explore the differences between male and female characters in film. For this article, we will be focusing on the portrayal of women in contemporary cinema. In film, the depiction of women is an important issue for society, and in some ways, it is the most blatant example of gender difference. There are films that show woman as the ultimate object, a reflection of their male counterpart. On the other hand, there are films that show women as more than objects for men to use for their own purposes. In defending this article, I would like to stress that I am in favor of women’s rights and equality; however there are numerous issues regarding representation in film that cannot be overlooked. On the other hand, films can be a source of education and awareness; they can also present images that are more reflective of reality.

girl played by lily tomlin
girl played by lily tomlin

The Rise of Female Characters in American Cinema

After World War II, a new wave of films was released that played an important role in shaping American cinema. These films are usually known for a significant amount of social and political critique, and have played an important role in American cinema’s development as a whole. The films released after the war have played a large part in giving the American public a more realistic view of the world around them; also, they were intended to change how Americans viewed their own country. These films had been influenced by World War II’s social conditions, which made Americans more aware of issues that involved women. “The best way to change society is not to complain about it. The best way is to change it.” (Betsy McCatty) In the prewar years, women had been portrayed as subservient and passive. All of a sudden, women were shown as being equal to men by using a positive example. This new genre of films, which can be considered early feminism and social realism, ushered in the “Golden Age” of American Cinema.

girl played by lily tomlin
girl played by lily tomlin

How Hollywood has evolved their portrayal of womanhood to be more realistic

Two of the main influences that have brought about a more realistic portrayal of womanhood are feminism and the women’s rights movement. The feminist movement is known for its emphasis on raising awareness and empowering women in order to make them equal to men. Specifically, they were fighting for equal pay and rights, including abortion. The difference between the feminist movement and the women’s rights movement can be seen through their approaches toward progressive legislation. The women’s rights movement emphasizes that women are already equal to men, and that feminism is not necessary. Women’s rights refer to acts of Congress such as Title IX, which states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” (Wikipedia.org) The way they approach legislation has largely been in favor of women’s rights.
The feminist movement is thought to have the primary role in the more realistic portrayal of womanhood. They emphasize that women should not be treated differently because of gender, but should be treated equally as men. Furthermore, legislation advocates for women’s rights may specifically target the issue of abortion itself. The feminist movement has fought for the legalization of abortions since the late 1960s, and have also advocated for women’s sexual rights. While there is no specific legislation that regulates abortion, feminism is considered as a key factor in recent debates regarding the legality of abortion in the United States.

girl played by lily tomlin
girl played by lily tomlin

How men have reacted to the evolving portrayal of womanhood in film

A reaction that men have had toward woman’s evolving portrayal in film was the development of masculinity. The new wave of cinema presented new ideas about how women were to be seen, and how they were to act within society. This new concept of womanhood implied that women would now be portrayed as equals to men, and as a result, ideas about masculinity also evolved. After this, the ideal man was portrayed as strong and independent, which led to a change in how men were depicted in film. The social movements that took place during this time period had greatly influenced the way society would treat women, as well as how they would treat themselves.
The new wave of feminism had greatly affected the way in which women were portrayed in film. Women were no longer portrayed as fragile and weak, they were now regarded as equals to men in almost all aspects of life. This change is evident within many films, most notably “A Woman Under the Influence.” In this film, James Mason’s character is always at work and preoccupied with it; his position within the household is more authoritative than his wife’s. He has more control over how the house is run and how it is cleaned, which in turn shows that he has the power to make decisions. Before this time period, women were regarded as being weak and inferior to men; they were not allowed to have an independent thought or opinion. “A Woman Under The Influence,” however, shows that women are just as capable of making wise decisions as men.

girl played by lily tomlin
girl played by lily tomlin

What are some recent trends with female characters in film?

Recent films have been moving away from the portrayal of women as objects for men, and are instead showing woman as more independent. An example of this can be seen in the film The Hunger Games. This book was adapted into a film in 2012, and has been gaining recognition for its portrayal of female characters; specifically the lead female character. In this film, the main character Katniss is portrayed as very independent of herself and others. She is the only child and her father has passed away before she was even born. In this film, Katniss shows strength and courage by persevering during the Hunger Games; in fact, she is one of only two women left when she is chosen as a tribute. She also shows her courage by killing her opponent: a male tribute. She has also shown to be very kind and compassionate by saving other people from the Games and treating them with kindness. She helps them when they are sick, provides medicine, and heals their wounds. By doing so, she has earned the affection and love of other people in the community who have lost loved ones.

girl played by lily tomlin
girl played by lily tomlin