With D.C. superheroine Wonder Woman recently named UN honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls and her forthcoming feature film building hype, her profile could hardly be higher as a feminist symbol. Yet Wonder Woman, who the U.N. hopes will focus attention on women’s “participation and leadership,” is an image entirely created by men. She represents, ironically enough, male domination of the struggle against male domination. … Far from a step forward, ‘Wonder Woman’ is worse than more simply offensive chauvinism, because it insidiously exploits the female audience’s desire to identify with Wonder Woman’s empowerment.
Director Robert Flaherty not only framed Inuit womanhood according to his fantasies of casual sensuality, but according to Euro-American patriarchal fantasy. His portrait of Inuit life is neatly divided between the woman’s role, limited to cleaning igloos and nursing infants, apparently immune to the frustrations of Euro-American women in that role, and the man’s role, leading the band, educating older children, and hunting.
Frida Kahlo’s sense of kyriarchy, in which the tension between Indigenous culture and European imperialism is a core aspect of her multi-faceted narratives of oppression and resistance, is simplified in Julie Taymor’s film ‘Frida’ towards a more Euro-American feminism, focused on Kahlo’s struggle for artistic recognition and romantic fulfillment as a woman, to the exclusion of her ethnic struggle.
Both films, then, arguably fit a wider cultural pattern of bi erasure, suggesting that bisexual characters must “resolve” themselves as either gay or straight. I would argue, however, that what marks ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ and ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ as something more nuanced and interesting than another tale of “inauthentic” bisexuality, is the subtlety with which they examine all sexual orientations as limited by our internalized need to socially perform.
In the two most famous films based on Meera’s life, 1945’s ‘Meera,’ starring the legendary M. S. Subbulakshmi, and 1979’s ‘Meera,’ starring Hema Malini, Meera’s social rebellion is made less threatening by her characterization through an Indian ideal of the devoted and submissive wife, albeit devoted to Krishna rather than to her earthly husband. Nevertheless, each film offers an interpretation of Meera’s resistance that represents its own philosophy of female emancipation.
The impulse to erase a woman’s testimony, to deny her agency and perception of the crime, while denying society’s victim blaming and bias against survivors of rape — this is the basis of what feminism describes as rape culture. Yet here it is practiced not by a misogynist man, nor by a loyal friend of the alleged rapist, but by a female director aiming to create “emphatically a feminist film.”
When was the last time we watched vintage female-authored films and discussed their art or meaning? Bitch Flicks presents Vintage Viewing — a monthly feature for viewing and discussing the films of cinema’s female pioneers. Where better to start than history’s first film director, Alice Guy-Blaché?
“Get Back In Your Kennels, Both of You”: The Bitchy Diversity of ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’
The traditional family is marked as a hostile space of enforced hypocrisy.
From the GBF to the pretty-ugly conformist-nonconformist girl, from positional superiority to “Hubble,” ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ expertly raises every clichéd plot twist and trope in the romcom playbook, before stripping them bare in favor of honesty, moral courage and the belief that life really does go on without a man. Surely that’s a message we can get behind?
Born Elizaveta Schnitt in 1900, she became an editing assistant for Pathe in Moscow at the age of just 14. By 1918, she was editing feature films at Goskino, the Soviet state cinema, and from 1922 to 1924 she was their chief editor. Thrilled by Vertov’s dynamic early documentary reels with the agit-propaganda trains, she would be his most vigorous champion toward mainstream support and feature documentaries. In 1922 she joined the Kinoglaz group, serving as chief editor and later assistant director on Vertov’s films.
“It is not fitting for her to be so manly and terrifying”: Catharsis and Female Chaos in Pasolini’s ‘Medea’
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 film ‘Medea’ was created in the aftermath of Italian fascism, another masculine cult of personal self-sacrifice in the interests of the state. Utilizing the operatic charisma of the legendary Maria Callas in a non-singing role, he harnesses the pitiless woman as an agent of chaos, rebelling against the dictates of the masculine state that urges her husband to discard her, in favor of a politically advantageous match.
There is a deeper truth here: by setting high expectations of men and offering models of liberated behavior that can be imitated, a strong male role model can be a young girl’s best mental defense against patriarchal conditioning. In the absence of one, Elizabeth has created an imaginary friend who models her mental resistance, gendering her own inner anarchic impulses as male.