Femintity

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How many action heroes are female? In the past, there were not many. But just as the visibility and power of women has increased in societal, political and economic areas, the same change is happening in media today. In his essay, “Go Ahead, Make Her Day”, author Richard Corliss states, “Flick on the TV, and see women – young women, almost always- kicking and thinking and winking at both the old notion of femininity and the aging precepts of feminism” (45). Historically, women have been portrayed in the media as passive and weak victims, waiting to be saved by men. If women did exhibit physical or mental strength, it was at the expense of their sexual appeal. The increase of roles for women in the media portrayed as self-sufficient heroines who are both strong and sexy challenges more traditional notions of both femininity and feminism. This represents a positive change as it offers stronger role models for society. Historically women were generally portrayed in the media as passive and sexually attractive or strong and unattractive, but not both. Most people understand the cultural concept of the “damsel in distress.” This notion is embedded into society, along with the idea of a male hero who aids the distressed female and saves the day. Consider all the examples of females who are rescued by males: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and countless other Disney heroines are saved by a Prince, Lois Lane is rescued by Superman, the current Bond girl is regularly saved by James Bond, etc. As Corliss observes in his essay, “It used to be the heroine’s job to get in trouble and the hero’s job to get her out of it” (Corliss 45). The females were typically illustrated as beautiful, passive characters who waited for the stronger, active males to save them. Female roles that illustrated any type of physical or mental strength were generally unattractive or nonsexual. For example consider two Disney villainesses, Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians and Ursula, from The...
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