Feminism In Film
Feminism called for positive female characters but seems to have contributed to its own decline as a political movement by refusing to recognise the body as a site of transformation and experimentation, capable of being imagined outside the notions of ‘lack’, ‘passive’, and ‘other’.
A person can be masculine and feminine, active and passive, and increasingly the body is transformed through exercise, fashion, make-up, and hairstyles.
Individuality is the defining feature of a contemporary consumer culture. The idea that a person can be anything he or she wants to be makes political movements like feminism increasingly unnecessary.
Current society sees people as consumers and films are made for people as consumers. In capitalist societies grand political ideologies have been replaced by individual consumerism.
One could ask whether feminism is relevant any more as women occupy the same roles as men in society and in films. Female characters are present in every genre, from road movies to westerns, from action to science fiction.
Cinema is seen as pure entertainment in a world where individuals search for pleasure and satisfaction. The female action heroines represent similarity and difference, a middle space between binaries of masculine and feminine.
They have contributed to the new spaces opened up for women in films and in societies. One could see these figures as a celebration of difference and individualism. You can be and become anything you want.
It is no longer necessary to organise the world through rigid binaries. By denying women the possibility to enjoy images of active, aggressive, and even violent women without reducing them to pseudo males, feminism has lost sight of the agenda it set out to achieve.
Furthermore, historically feminism like other critical movements has rarely addressed subjects that are not white and fundamentally heterosexual.
Feminist film theory has inherited many of the cultural attributes and biases of its male predecessors. The centrality of sexual difference, especially in psychoanalytic feminism, and its difficulty in dealing with other differences- of class, race or sexual preference- have seemed to fix feminist theory within the very dualism it seeks to explain (Thornham, 1997).
Feminism has more or less exhausted itself through its obsession with binary logic. Films are increasingly enjoyed as pure entertainment and the battle of the sexes has been replaced by celebration of difference and consumer culture.
However, this does not mean that the problems addressed by feminists have been solved or that they have disappeared.