Female Power: Standing in Masculinity’s Shadow April 10, 2007Posted by kblack10 in Girl Power, La Femme Nikita, stereotypes, Tomb Raider 2, Working Girl.
Women have long been thought of as strong, matriarchal characters, but from the films we have watched in class, it is apparent that as time progresses, the actual “power” that a woman can posses is always in relation to power already existing in their male counterparts. In Imitation of Life, Annie is seen as a strong character because, aside from the issues with her daughter, she manages to take on the “male role” in a rather unconventional “family”. While Annie did not necessarily adhere to typical profile of the strong female as being attractive, beautiful, and catering to the idea of the male gaze, her character proves that there is far more to being a strong woman than appearance. For that time period when the ideal family consisted of a working father, doting wife, two children and a puppy, Annie represented the fact that a woman can not only raise, but also run a family just like the stereotypical ideal husband. The movie Working Girls displays a break through in girl power for its time because it centers around the idea of a beautiful, young, “lower class” woman actually rising to the top of a job based on her intellect in a field that at the time is specifically recognized as masculine. Katherine’s character in the film was arguably of equal intelligence and will power, yet personally I feel that despite her negative actions, the amount of “power” which she displays is of a diminished level as she is the less attractive of the two female characters. In more recent films it seems as though female power continues to be viewed as a mixture of a woman’s ability to be attractive while still being completely in control with her actions and attitude, yet the woman’s actual attitude and physicality are constantly in comparison to the idea of a “powerful” man. In La Femme Nikita and Tomb Raider II, while both women possess beauty, they are also gun-wielding and of a definite “kill without mercy” state of mind; while they are seen as powerful for being so aggressive, I feel that this is because these are the characteristics society generally attributes to men. Thus, once again the actual “amount” of female power a woman may have is solely based on a comparison between her actions and portrayal in relation to stereotyped views of masculinity.