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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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