Analysis of How Women Are Portrayed In Movies Historically, the attitudes and beliefs about women have been bleak. Women have been depicted as being inferior to men, and science has viewed women as being a subsidiary of man. Even in the greatest country on earth, women in the United States have still been treated unequally compared to men. American women have struggled for many years to find their voice, without being punished for having one. It wasn’t until 1920 with the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave (white) women the right to vote, finally allowing women to have some input on political issues.
Almost 100 years have gone by since the signing of the 19th Amendment into law, yet women are not seen as equals to men. Does this mean our society not changed in the last 100 years? No, we actually have. However, the way we treat and objectify women are more subtle today than 100 years ago. So what has changed? Women today, (though this is a simplistic example) actually go to work and support themselves, are more educated and have a stronger presence in the employment field.
However, even in the employment field, women are subtlety treated unequally, with women being underpaid, receiving roughly 80 cents to the dollar of which a man makes. Additionally, women in America have often been the victims of stereotypes (e. g. women suck at math, therefore can never be a math teacher), objectification (e. g. a woman’s vagina replaced by a bottle of cologne), and rules, with women being subjected to a different set of rules compared to their male counterpart (e. g. men can have casual sex, but not women).
If laws are intending to protect people and change the way a society views each other, how is it that we still have issues of discrimination and objectification towards women? Famous author C. ). Heck states, ‘We are all products of our environment; every person we meet, every new experience or adventure, every book we read, touches, and changes us, making us the unique being we are. ” If true, and we are products of our environment than something in our environment still condones the mistreatment, and sexual objectification of women.
I believe our biggest barrier affecting the inequality directed towards women, is the media. The media (e. g. social media, radio, television, internet, and movies) is the most important and influential tools in our society. The media determines what is normal and valued behavior, which repeatedly depicts women as frail, needed, dumb, slutty, prudes, and generally far less superior than men. My intent with this paper to highlight a movie “How to be single” that goes against the norm, meaning the main characters are all women, four to be precise.
However, several scenes throughout the movie still portray the women in a negative light, with several stereotypes women that plague women. Thus, I will be describing three scenes from the movie, followed by an analysis of the scene using several different concepts. I will close this paper with a brief analysis on whether “How to be single” passes the Bechdel test or not. Sausage Wallets Buys the Drinks In this scene two of the main characters Alice and Robin go to a bar after work. While in the bar Alice says to Robin, “Hand me my purse, I’m going to get us a couple of drinks”.
Robin responds to Alice’s statement with a face of shock, which implies utter disbelief that Alice is buying drinks. When Robin replies, “Why are you taking your wallet, let the sausage wallets pay for the drinks” the original assumption is given merit, Robin was in disbelief that Alice would pay for her own drink. The sausage wallets in this scene are men. The scene shows the men (sausage wallets) are drinking at the bar drinking, and carrying on among themselves, directly behind Alice, while she was speaking with Robin. This was a short scene, however it demonstrates two very subtle issues surrounding women.
I know, this can be trivial and nitpicky to some. However, the scene has underlying issues, for instance the scene depicts women of not being able to buy their drinks in several ways. For instance, one depiction is a woman needs a man to order her drink, because for someone reason she is not capable of doing this tedious task. Thus, I believe this diminishes the entire independent woman persona that the writer and director were going for. Additionally, this shows young women, they are not able to buy their own drinks because that is a man’s job.
Therefore, leaving them dependent on a man. In the research conducted by Martin and Kazyak (2009) concluded that “Kids easily absorb messaged communicated through popular media, because young children are immersed in media-rich worlds. ” It is along these lines that children are being programmed through the messages they are receiving, in the media, which seems to perpetuate a sense of sexualization of women. Give Up Pants My intent before describing the scene is to give a quick back brief on the character, so that you can have a better understanding of the context of the scene.
Meg, is another lead character in the movie. She lives across from a bar, which happens to have free Wi-Fi. Meg being frugal with her money decides to conduct her personal business at the bar across the street from her apartment. She makes a deal with the bar owner, that she will not call the police every night and make a noise complaint if he allows her to use the internet without and issues. In this scene, Meg is sitting at the bar on her computer and eating a sandwich. Additionally, Meg wearing sweatpants and a baggy shirt, not ideal clothing for going out.
Tom, the owner of the bar walks over to her and says, “Why are you here? Why don’t you take your give up pants and go home, you’re bumming people out. ” Again, this scene is subtle in its portrayal of women issues. However, I still believe that the message is abundantly clear. Typically, society would say anytime you go out man or woman you should be dressed in a way to attract people to you, especially if they are trying to meet someone. Thus, sexualization is again an underlying cause. Tom inappropriately imposed sexuality on Meg by implying what she was wearing was essentially giving up pants.
Additionally, this scene tends to give women, especially young women mixed messages. On one hand, some women may feel Meg had every right to sit there in her sweat pants, because they tend to feel “when women express their sexuality in more active ways, such as wearing sweatpants to a bar, they are violating traditional sexual scripts and gender norms,” thus empowering them as individuals (Attwood, 2007). On the other hand, some young women feel Meg was wrong, because some women “may see the desire to be sexy as a sign of their liberation and view it as a personal choice” (McRobbie, 2004).
This scene also gives a great example of the paradox that women must struggle with daily, and that is, look pretty and act accordingly and be yourself. But don’t be yourself in a sense of individualism, but more of what society says you should be. God You Look Pretty When You’re Mad In this scene Alice is upset and left her birthday party. She retreats to the fire escape, where she sits down and begins to think about everything that is happening in her life and the choices she has made along the way. While sitting there on the fire escape, Alice’s ex-boyfriend Josh comes to her aid.
It was the usual knight to the rescue type of scene. Josh sits down next to Alice and says, “God you look pretty when you’re pissed. ” She laughs and they talk. There was more to that scene, but I wanted to highlight two major things I noticed about the scene in the way I described it here. First, Alice is seen as an emotional wreck who needs rescued by Josh. Secondly, Josh immediately shut her feelings down, by saying “you look pretty when you’re pissed”. The stereotypes about women being the emotional sex, and men not caring, which are reinforced throughout this scene.
Some people may argue because we live in a culture of display rules this type of behavior is normalized, “where it is okay for a woman to express sympathy, but not anger, and for men to express anger but not fear” (Hyde & Else-Quest, 2013). Goldberg and Grandey (2000) argued the emotional demands caused by display rules are stressful, because they create the need to manage emotional states, and this emotion work is the more proximal predictor of stress. According to Hyde and Else-Quest (2013) in the presence of stress, those with high vulnerability are likely to be depressed.
Thus, gives some more understanding of women’s health and how much more likely women are compared to men to be diagnosed with depression. Again, women find themselves in a situation where they are constantly juggling a double-edged sword. Which I think this scene nailed, women must be strong and independent, but soft and gentle at the same time. Could you imagine the outrage if men were told to be in a constant state of flux of emotion? It would never happen, so why are we allowing the media to portray women this way? Conclusion
The movie “How to be single” was a delightful comedy that depicted how women view being single. Though the movie itself had few scenes where women were viewed as the stereotypical woman (e. g. emotional, self-centered, dumb) these scenes were subtle in depicting women in an unfavorable way. Thus, I would have to say that after analyzing the movie using the Bechdel test, which is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.
The movie received a three out of three. There were four women not just two. They talked to each other about real issues, pregnancy, work, relationship issues. I know that relationship issues seem to be about men, but not in this case. These women, supported each other through some rather sensitive topics that only affect women. I appreciated the way that these women were portrayed, because it felt real and honest even thought there were fewer cases of stereotypical male point of views. All in all i felt like this movie portrayed women in a positive light.