In the scheme of major motion pictures today there’s an attempt to portray women as strong people, yet in every role there are instances of docility so that the male characters have often had the upper hand. In more modern times, the downfall of women has always been men, as opposed to biblical and Greco-Roman stories where the opposite was true. Women are always made out to be these weak beings that are either controlled by their emotions or use their sexuality to get what they want or need. Men, on the other hand, have used their intelligence to get them out of sticky situations.
In the movie “Norma Rae,” the title character played by Sally Field, a woman led a strike at the plant she worked at. Field’s character got the people of the factory to unite, she negotiated strongly with those more intelligent than she, but in the end she ended up in a relationship with the reporter from out of town. She was an amazingly strong woman when she was involved with strike related issues, but whenever she was with the reporter she acted the part of the meek woman.
Even in lead roles, women who are made out to be strong characters, who appear to be more intelligent and powerful than their male counterparts, use their sexuality to gain the upper hand. In the movie “The Thomas Crown Affair,” the more recent remake, Renee Russo’s character ended up using the emotional and sexual relationship that had developed between she and Pierce Brosnan (Thomas Crown) to get him to return the painting he had stolen instead of her intelligence as we were made to think she was going to use.
In “An Ideal Husband,” a play by Oscar Wilde recently made into a film; both the Mable Chilton (Minnie Driver) and Mrs. Cheveley (Julianne Moore) characters used their sexuality and emotional holds over men to get what they wanted. Driver’s character, a very intelligent and headstrong woman by the standards of the play’s late nineteenth century setting, used her emotional hold over Rupert Everett’s character to get him to ask to marry her. Moore’s character, on the other hand, used her sexuality and past relationships to try and get a vote in parliament to swing the way she wanted it to.
Male characters in film have rarely used their sexuality to solve problems they have faced. Sean Connery, a known sexual object thanks to his playing “James Bond,” has always used some sort of gadget to catch the “bad” guy. Harrison Ford in “Patriot Games” ended up catching the criminals with a computer. In a movie just released to theaters “Pitch Black,” the main female character used her emotional ties with the main male character to get him to go back and rescue people. He, on the other hand, used his intelligence to escape the dreaded, dark planet. In the movie and book versions of The Silence of the Lambs, “Hannibal Lechter” used his knowledge of the human mind to manipulate the FBI investigator.
Even with the advancements of technology and the equality issues that have been debated, movies continue to portray female characters, both directly and indirectly, as weak-minded people who rely in their sexuality to get what they want. Moviegoers of all ages have witnessed this kind of thing. It occurs in children’s movies like “The Lion King,” its been seen in teeny-bopper movies like “10 Things I Hate About You,” and the more adult orientated films above.
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