Lisa Mazey (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Open discussion of how women are portrayed in film should examine how those portrayals evolve over time to reflect changing cultural values. Women have fulfilled roles that exhibit their historically subservient or sexualized positions in society, among others. Over the decades the gender identity of women has fluctuated to include powerful women, emotionally strong women, lesbian women, and even neurologically atypical women. These identities reflect the expanding possibilities that society recognizes as more likely and more mainstream.
In the 1950s era in America, women in movies were depicted
as the counterpart to male characters and their masculinity, either as a threat
or support to the patriarchal norms. Over time, these norms have been
questioned, challenged, deconstructed and reconstructed to include women in a
more equitable balance. Contributors to this roundtable could examine
particular films, actors/actresses’ careers or ground-breaking roles, or film
genres that allow for discussion and analysis of how society’s views of women
have changed, and perhaps where these views might travel in the future.
Women still fight for equal access, equal pay, equal standing
in all walks of life and in many different cultures. The film industry does not
only exist in Hollywood – films made from around the world voice their cultural
norms and question women’s roles within them perhaps more boldly and more honestly
in recent history than are recognized by mainstream America. Those films
deserve attention and recognition in this discussion as well.