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Women with powerful jobs in the movies-- is it feminine?

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There's a gazillion 'hidden factors' in a question like this. Jazz Man's remark is well-taken. A human-centric industry like the theater just doesn't lend itself readily to analysis.

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Love seeing all the men in here talking feminism ;)

I sort of see this from two sides. In one way, to an extent, women's roles in films may have reflected what society expected them to be. It's okay to have your dalliance in the workplace, as long as you were ready to give it up when you found your man. Or even to say wanting to hold a job might get in the way of finding your man, so it's best you just not. As much as I don't think there was a grand conspiracy in Hollywood to oppress women, I can see that the individuals writing and producing films may have certain biases and expectations they perpetuated in their movies without even realizing.

It's also possible, though, that these films felt they were truly being progressive by putting a woman in a "man's world" at all. So even though a woman leaves and fulfills her womanly duties by the end of the movie, they were taking steps for women by showing their capabilities. This second scenario isn't so different than much of what we see in Hollywood today, if you ask me. I'm not sure we've made as much progress for women in film as we like to say we have. 

Sgt_Markoff said above how many women feel the career push actually hurt them because they're expected to be breadwinners now and raise the babies. I can only speak from my perspective here, but every time I hear this argument, I see a big hole in it. I fully expect to maintain a career most of my life and I'm so excited to have kids and a family. But there's just as much responsibility on my partner to also have a career and raise our family. In a marriage, both parents can be equally responsible, and women shouldn't be handling that "second shift" alone. 

Anyway, maybe we just need to reframe what we think "feminine" means. It doesn't have to be weak or delicate or motherly. It can be someone who is strong, has a job, wears pants, and happens to be female. I don't think any of the roles mentioned above make those characters any less feminine. And I love any opportunity to see a boss babe on screen B)

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Note that a night of Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell films last month is a good example of what Antoniacarlotta mentions as it relates to the 'two sides";   The host,  Dave Karger,  mentioned this related to the film Traveling Sales Lady:   That in most of their other films,  the two played gold-diggers where their primary mission was to get married to a rich man or until that happened, to fleece rich men (often married ones),  so they could have the lifestyle they wanted.  

Traveling Sales Lady was different in that the Joan character was a daughter of a rich business man that had zero respect for her as a women with a brain and the ambition to go with it.    Joan ends up working for the competition and of course is very successful.    (but the ending is the typically one where Joan is willing to give up her career for the love of a man,   but in this case, she might of anyway since her main goal was to show her father that she 'had it').

 

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2 hours ||||||||, antoniacarlotta said:

Sgt_Markoff said above how many women feel the career push actually hurt them because they're expected to be breadwinners now and raise the babies. I can only speak from my perspective here, but every time I hear this argument, I see a big hole in it. I fully expect to maintain a career most of my life and I'm so excited to have kids and a family. But there's just as much responsibility on my partner to also have a career and raise our family. In a marriage, both parents can be equally responsible, and women shouldn't be handling that "second shift" alone. 

I don't mind being quoted--thank you for the credit. I got my info straight from the mouths of several sharp women; going for advanced degrees at the time. I'm sure they'd like to know some way to work the arrangement better to their liking, but for reasons they didn't elaborate on to me, they rather glumly felt the whole thing was bound to be slanted against them. Maybe some angle like breast-feeding or maternity-leave or the glass-ceiling or single-car ownership or what happens in the case of divorce ...or something else I couldn't imagine, which meant (to them) that its bound to be the mommy putting in more time with the tykes than the man.

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5 hours ago, TopBilled said:

But the point of the story was that Barbara Stanwyck's character was not Joan Bennett's character. She had chosen a career outside the home over one inside the home. So Bennett has to win in the end. Stanwyck was really playing a middle aged variation on her old corporate climbing character from BABY FACE. This was Miss Baby Face twenty years later, without a husband and family of her own, stuck in hell because of her "success" in a man's world.

Actually TB, I always thought the "point" of the story was that through finally recognizing the fact of Stanwyck's still being able to attract MacMurray's sexual and intellectual interests as an attractive and yes "feminine" woman, and regardless her being a successful businessperson or not, MacMurrray's wife AND his snotty and spoiled teenage kids would come to the realization that MacMurray was MORE than just a "provider" for them and thus begin to cease taking him for granted.

(...and that the idea that Joan would then win back his affections and that he stayed married to her, or as you put it "won in the end" over Babs, would be of only secondary importance)

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5 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Actually TB, I always thought the "point" of the story was that through finally recognizing the fact of Stanwyck's still being able to attract MacMurray's sexual and intellectual interests as an attractive and yes "feminine" woman, and regardless her being a successful businessperson or not, MacMurrray's wife AND his snotty and spoiled teenage kids would come to the realization that MacMurray was MORE than just a "provider" for them and thus begin to cease taking him for granted.

(...and that the idea that Joan would then win back his affections and that he stayed married to her, or as you put it "won in the end" over Babs, would be of only secondary importance)

Interesting viewpoint. I can buy that. 

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5 hours ago, antoniacarlotta said:

...Anyway, maybe we just need to reframe what we think "feminine" means. It doesn't have to be weak or delicate or motherly. It can be someone who is strong, has a job, wears pants, and happens to be female. I don't think any of the roles mentioned above make those characters any less feminine. And I love any opportunity to see a boss babe on screen B)

OH! So kind'a like that this old Enjoli perfume commercial here that ran on TV when you were just a glimmer in your parents' eyes, eh Antonia?!...

See?! Maybe we DON'T "need to reframe what feminine means" after all, huh.

(...nope, seems what you were talkin' about here goes at least as far back as the early-'80s, and when I WAS just about your age back then, huh) ;)

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I don't know about everyone else, but I haven't heard anyone say 'act feminine' since my mom was wrestling me into stiff pink taffeta and tying bows in my hair...I won't say how many decades ago that was...

As far as women's role in films, I have always felt that the depiction of 'strong' (accomplished, clever) women was killed by WWII...pre-war, these roles were common...post war, women were quickly 'put in their place'..wife, mother, secretary, hooker.  It took a long time before that pattern changed.

I guess there were (and maybe still are..) people who put ambition/education/intellect into a 'masculine' column instead of a 'people' column, and that affects how they view female film characters.

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19 hours ago, GordonCole said:

Reminds me of the line in Marty where the aunt says something pejorative about Marty's new girl having gone to college, about college girls being "One steppa from the streets, one steppa from the streets." Those college girls go on to careers and I guess ruin society.

Always loved that one....

But it does kinda sound as if it's believed that a college girl is no better than a street walker, when actually, being a college girl is a GREAT way to AVOID that life style.

Sepiatone

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On 12/6/2018 at 8:11 AM, Sepiatone said:

Always loved that one....

But it does kinda sound as if it's believed that a college girl is no better than a street walker, when actually, being a college girl is a GREAT way to AVOID that life style.

Sepiatone

Aunt Teresa in the movie had very strong opinions about college girls!

 

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On December 5, 2018 at 5:26 PM, Dargo said:

OH! So kind'a like that this old Enjoli perfume commercial here that ran on TV when you were just a glimmer in your parents' eyes, eh Antonia?!...

See?! Maybe we DON'T "need to reframe what feminine means" after all, huh.

(...nope, seems what you were talkin' about here goes at least as far back as the early-'80s, and when I WAS just about your age back then, huh) ;)

Haha wow, so many thoughts on this commercial! Mostly, I'm just exhausted thinking of every single thing this poor woman is expected to do. Be beautiful, be strong, make money, make breakfast, validate her husband, work a full day, read to the kids, validate her husband some more ... and make sure she smells good doing it. Though I was stoked to hear the "husband" say he'd handle dinner. This is so quintessentially 80s and I love it :lol:

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52 minutes ago, antoniacarlotta said:

Haha wow, so many thoughts on this commercial! Mostly, I'm just exhausted thinking of every single thing this poor woman is expected to do. Be beautiful, be strong, make money, make breakfast, validate her husband, work a full day, read to the kids, validate her husband some more ... and make sure she smells good doing it. Though I was stoked to hear the "husband" say he'd handle dinner. This is so quintessentially 80s and I love it :lol:

Note that the L.A. Times had a great article on Monday,  about 'The Forgotten early Film stars' that was focused only on the women related to a DVD box set of film featuring female directors.    Females directors were a powerful force in Hollywood during the silent era.   E.g. Lois Weber was one of the top directors at Universal Studios, and in all of Hollywood, in the early decades of the 20th century.  Studio chief Carl Laemmle described her as his 'best man on the lot'.    Weber had peers like Cleo Madison, Ida May Park, Ruth Ann Baldwin,  Elsie Jane Wilson, and Lule Warrenton.   Some 170 films were helmed by women at the studio from 1914 - 1919.

The articles doesn't go into much detail about what changed but to say WWI had an impact and studios changed practices and mostly hired men (some only men) to be producers and directors.    

Sorry for not providing a link,  but I highly recommend this.

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We all know that Hollywood mythologized, exaggerated, and distorted western cowboys.

We all know that Hollywood mythologized, exaggerated, and distorted WWII fighting men.

We all know Hollywood did the same for many other 'groups' besides these.

Policemen are always jovial and Irish, librarians always spinsters (glasses hanging from neck on beaded chains), bakers are usually Italian, tailors usually Italian or Jewish, every lumberjack is a Norwegian. Every Greek has a thick accent, talks with his hands, is a good businessman. Stereotypes galore.

So how come none of these groups take offense? Is it only when a negative stereotype is applied, that someone objects?

If someone tells you that you come from a 'race famous for great chefs'--or 'you come from an island known for heroes'--do you leap up angrily to deny it?

Just occurs to me to ask this tonight.

 

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2 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

We all know that Hollywood mythologized, exaggerated, and distorted western cowboys.

We all know that Hollywood mythologized, exaggerated, and distorted WWII fighting men.

We all know Hollywood did the same for many other 'groups' besides these.

 Policemen are always jovial and Irish, librarians always spinsters (glasses hanging from neck on beaded chains), bakers are usually Italian, tailors usually Italian or Jewish, every lumberjack is a Norwegian. Every Greek has a thick accent, talks with his hands, is a good businessman. Stereotypes galore.

So how come none of these groups take offense? Is it only when a negative stereotype is applied, that someone objects?

If someone tells you that you come from a 'race famous for great chefs'--or 'you come from an island known for heroes'--do you leap up angrily to deny it?

Just occurs to me to ask this tonight.

 

I don't know that we can definitively say no one from these groups ever expressed offense. I seem to recall some articles indicating not every Greek-American was thrilled with the mega-smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding, for example, even though the stereotypes presented in that film were relatively benign. Possibly with the older movies, there wasn't really a forum for these groups to express themselves about such things, or not one that was seen by the public at large, anyway.  

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1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

I don't know that we can definitively say no one from these groups ever expressed offense. I seem to recall some articles indicating not every Greek-American was thrilled with the mega-smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding, for example, even though the stereotypes presented in that film were relatively benign. Possibly with the older movies, there wasn't really a forum for these groups to express themselves about such things, or not one that was seen by the public at large, anyway.  

OH yeah! And I DEFINITELY have known more than a few Italian-Americans who were never all that "thrilled" with The Godfather films, as they worried that these films would just cement in the minds of others that many Italian-Americans are involved in organized crime or had at the very least have some peripheral or loose contacts with it.

(...and so I'm NOT so sure here that the Sarge's earlier broad-brush observation about "who gets their feelings hurt and who doesn't" holds up to closer scrutiny)

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I pulled some easy examples out of the air; I wasn't making 'absolute' statements for each of them. But the principle --namely, that innocent stereotypes abound in media --this is pretty firm, whether or not we can scrabble around to find some meager contradictions in specific cases. As I said, you never find an Italian agreeing that his nation's chefs are terrible or that their opera is atrocious; nor (on the other hand) will they ever disagree that their people are good-looking or agree that they're not good lovers. The whole business of "taking offense" is a sham, as far as I'm concerned. In each case, the language is referring to 'people as a whole' but only when the remark is a 'diss' does anyone care. Complimenting someone's race is almost always accepted with grace; (unless its clearly a backhanded compliment; such as praising Hitler's autobahn; or praising African-Americans only for their singing and basketball).

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8 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I pulled some easy examples out of the air; I wasn't making 'absolute' statements for each of them. But the principle --namely, that innocent stereotypes abound in media --this is pretty firm, whether or not we can scrabble around to find some meager contradictions in specific cases. As I said, you never find an Italian agreeing that his nation's chefs are terrible or that their opera is atrocious; nor (on the other hand) will they ever disagree that their people are good-looking or agree that they're not good lovers. The whole business of "taking offense" is a sham, as far as I'm concerned. In each case, the language is referring to 'people as a whole' but only when the remark is a 'diss' does anyone care. Complimenting someone's race is almost always accepted with grace; (unless its clearly a backhanded compliment; such as praising Hitler's autobahn; or praising African-Americans only for their singing and basketball).

What is a sham is over generalization;   (which is what you're doing here,  big time).

 

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Oh, you're not hurting my feelings if you accuse me of generalization. Its the foundation of all western knowledge. Science, math, everything. Our whole civilization depends on this ability. Many problems can't be addressed any other way.

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On 12/1/2018 at 10:00 PM, TopBilled said:

screen-shot-2018-12-01-at-7-55-28-pm.jpg

Is it okay for Ruth Chatterton to run a large automobile company in FEMALE (1933)..?

Is it okay for Polly Bergen to run the country in KISSES FOR MY PRESIDENT (1964)?

What about Judith Anderson running a whole town in THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946)? After her death, her niece Martha (Barbara Stanwyck) ends up running the factory in Iverstown.

Sylvia Sidney runs for congress, and wins, with help from political strategist George Raft in MR. ACE (1946). But can he really fall in love with someone who wants to be one of the boys?

A year later Loretta Young becomes a congresswoman in THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER (1947).

Madeleine Carroll is the head of a huge department store in HONEYMOON IN BALI (1939).

Rosalind Russell is a tough ad exec in TAKE A LETTER DARLING (1942). She has practically no time for romance.

Myrna Loy is a magazine editor in THIRD FINGER LEFT HAND (1940). Ginger Rogers also runs a fashion magazine in LADY IN THE DARK (1944).

Katharine Hepburn earns a living as a pro athlete in PAT AND MIKE (1952).

Joan Crawford runs a trucking business in THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE (1942). They all kiss up to her because she is signing their paychecks.

Speaking of trucks, Patsy Kelly and two girlfriends inherit a rig in DANGER! WOMEN AT WORK (1943). Then they hit the road to make a living.

screen-shot-2018-12-01-at-7-49-29-pm.jpg

Some men can only deal with women in power if she is playing a part in a movie. Some men can only like women smarter than they, if said woman is in a so-called film noir movie. Then their superiority to some men is allowable since it is only a fictional tale.

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1 hour ago, GordonCole said:

Some men can only deal with women in power if she is playing a part in a movie. Some men can only like women smarter than they, if said woman is in a so-called film noir movie. Then their superiority to some men is allowable since it is only a fictional tale.

Hey, why are you dishing on Jim Thorne?

 

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57 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Hey, why are you dishing on Jim Thorne?

 

I dunno, maybe 'cause Gordie doesn't feel they should have ever reinstated his Olympic medals?

(...oh, wait...THORNE you said...sorry, never mind then, James) ;)

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12 minutes ago, Dargo said:

I dunno, maybe 'cause Gordie doesn't feel they should have ever reinstated his Olympic medals?

(...oh, wait...THORNE you said...sorry, never mind then, James) ;)

Pure Jim Thorpe should have never lost his medals in the first place!    Of course today,  Lancaster wouldn't be able to play the character but I think he did a good job.

PS:  Thorne is the guy with the big rear that claims to love Ruth,  but only if she tows the line.

 

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15 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Pure Jim Thorpe should have never lost his medals in the first place!    Of course today,  Lancaster wouldn't be able to play the character but I think he did a good job.

PS:  Thorne is the guy with the big rear that claims to love Ruth,  but only if she tows the line.

 

Wait a sec here, James. I remember watching Female a while back on TCM, and while watching it thinking to myself that due to this flick being made in 1933 and early on in his career, it was when George Brent STILL had a reasonably sized rear end!

(...not that I was concentrating on that while watching the movie, mind you...I just noticed that, that's all) ;)

LOL 

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Well, I too, don't make a habit of noticing men's hind ends in movies made in ANY era, but it was my wife( God bless her) who some years back pointed out...

"D'ja ever notice in these old movies the men look as if they have constant WEDGIES in their trousers?"  :D

And indeed, those loose fitting slacks over those equally loose fitting BOXER SHORTS do make "the crack of dawn" easy to spot!  :o   :huh:

And that's "POST-CODE" as well as "Pre".  But for the women, you HAVE to go "Pre-code" for that sort of thing.  At least until the '70's.  ;)

Sepiatone

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On 12/5/2018 at 9:33 PM, shutoo said:

I don't know about everyone else, but I haven't heard anyone say 'act feminine' since my mom was wrestling me into stiff pink taffeta and tying bows in my hair...I won't say how many decades ago that was...

As far as women's role in films, I have always felt that the depiction of 'strong' (accomplished, clever) women was killed by WWII...pre-war, these roles were common...post war, women were quickly 'put in their place'..wife, mother, secretary, hooker.  It took a long time before that pattern changed.

I guess there were (and maybe still are..) people who put ambition/education/intellect into a 'masculine' column instead of a 'people' column, and that affects how they view female film characters.

Post WW2 actually placed women in strong roles as scientists in science fiction films, like "War of the Worlds" 1953, "Them!" 1954, "Gog" 1954, among others.

 

There is a book on the subject, Women Scientists in Fifties Science Fiction Films by Bonnie Noonan

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