Women Studies Mid sem.docx

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Women's Studies
Course Code
Women's Studies 2161A/B
Susan Knabe

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th Week 1&2 - Celebrity Culture Early 20 Century:  Narrative films allowed for actors to become recognisable figures, but it took the invention of film studios not only to realize that it was possible to capitalize on the celebrity of actors but also to create a “star system” calculated to turn actors into celebrities. This allowed them to capitalise on the recognition factor. Queen Christina (1993) directed by Rouben Mamoulian Erkkila, Betsy. "Greta Garbo: Sailing beyond the Frame.” (Jun., 1985)  Christina is played by Greta Garbo, famous for her cinematic roles as a vamp.  This film shows a clear defiance by Garbo from her public image, which so highly values her sexual prowess as depicted to “mass culture”.  This is also true about her off-screen life. Garbo felt trapped by her celebrity image. Her role in Queen Christina served to redefine Garbo’s image, yet also proved to be a triumphant fail. The similarities between the two female leaders are apparent, from their preference for “male” attire, to their sexual preferences.  “Nothing but a beautiful mask” –Christina is portrayed by Garbo as a confident, yet dissatisfied women, whom, although is head of state, is limited by the periods gender views and tradition of the monarchy. Garbo’s clearly defies her direction at the end of the film from being a mask. What was meant to be an image of perfection and beauty, instead is a strong depiction of a women who has embodied a sense of power and fulfilment, releasing herself from as, Betsy Erkkila suggests in Greta Garbo: Sailing beyond the Frame, “the romantic structures that entrap the female heroine”.  Christina’s fulfilment is achieved by the removal of her title as Queen and hence her “duty”, wish is so heavily emphasised during the film. The quote “Wishes of your people, are your wishes”, shows the divergent priorities between Christina and her advisors. Garbo successfully demonstrates this through her costumes in the film. As Queen, she wears masculine attire and eschews herself from femineity, as contrasted by Ebba in the film.  Betsy Erkkila thoroughly explains Greta Garbo’s struggle for self-autonomy both in life and in cinema in the post-war era of the twentieth century. Garbo exhibited an innovative power that Hollywood executives tried to erase my putting her in roles that displayed her as the sexual vamp, but in reality there was much more to Garbo than the ‘dumb swede’ that she was pressured to portray (595).  Hollywood executives and directors treated Garbo as though she was a blank slate, in which they could mold, almost as though as a woman she was unable to create herself (595). Erkkila describes this as a ‘power struggle’ between Garbo and Hollywood executives (597).  Garbo’s stage presence was mesmerizing, not only to the audience but also to other members of the cast. It was obviously hard for the executives to accept a woman with such presence and power within this period of history, which explains why they always sought to put her in the vamp roles. Her presence was intimidating to many and it was almost unheard of for a woman to have such drive and passion to go against the female ‘norms’ of film.  Garbo proclaimed “always the vamp I am, always the woman of no heart” (597). She was well aware of the Hollywood image that she was supposed to be portraying, yet she knew that she was more than that, and sought out to change the vamp roles that she was expected to play.  Garbo confirms it or not, you can really see the feminist grow within her throughout her career. She wanted to break away from the stereotypical roles of the vamp and ‘silly love- making’ (599), and step out of the box that actresses were contained in. She was not obsessed with marriage and maintaining the cultural norms of female domesticity. She was quite content with solitude, in which she was often vocal about. Erkkila explains that Garbo’s views on and off screen created a new standard, opposed to and “beyond the single standard of love and marriage that *had+ been used as the measure of female life” (599).  In the film Queen Christina Garbo is able to assert her power within the movie, and display female self-creation and independence, rather than the romanticized love narrative that Hollywood wanted to hold on to. It becomes evident that within Queen Christina and her struggles, Garbo saw herself. The conflicts within the movie strike a political message through Garbo of a female’s right to determine her own destiny, and a disentanglement of the containment of female autonomy. She shows a new and exciting version of the traditional female role in film, as well in the real world. Week 3 – Trail Blazers  Technology allowed women great freedom. A great example of this was the bicycle and later the car, and saw women become more active in society. Flight – Amelia Earheat  As Humphrey points out, “Women such as Marsalis and Richey are largely forgotten now, their achievements distilled, simply, into the legendary figure of Amelia Earhart” (213)  Earhart was the first woman (and 2 person) to make a solo flight across the Atlantic; she set a number of records (which was a consistent pursuit of aviators at the time) Text – Helen Humphreys, Leaving Earth  Leaving Earth is obviously about a long‐distance flying record (and Grace’s husband, Jack, tries to sabotage her because it’s his record that she’s trying to break)  The novel is very accurate in its depiction of the focus on record‐setting in the 1930s, particularly as people were eager for distraction from the disastrous economic conditions of the Great Depression that began in 1929 Influence of WW1  Women discovered that they could do work that they had been told they were biologically unfitted for, from farming to factories  Women who trained as nurses were on the front lines in the war, driving ambulances and staffing field hospitals  In addition, the lack of men on the home front allowed women to discover that they could cope on their own, while the likelihood of boyfriends and husbands dying created an impetus for “immoral” behaviour, notably premarital sex  First Wave feminism (the Suffragette movement) had won women the vote and access to university education, etc. WW I had taught women that they could do work previously defined as male, from farming to factories. The culture post‐WWI reinvented gender, especially female gender, in the spirit of freedom that had become common during the war WW2 and “Women’s Work”  Women were replacing men on factories and farms Margaret Bourke‐White - Photographer for Fortune and LIFE Magazine.  One of the pioneers of Photojournalism  First female war photographer and first woman working in a combat zone  Legacy- o Trailblazer in the field of journalism o Her photos were extremely important in the way the US saw itself and the world and her images her important in the self-scrutiny. o Documented racial violence o Challenged Americans to engage in the world they live and life outside of their suburban enclave. Eileen Boris "Desirable Dress: Rosies, Sky Girls, and the Politics of Appearance."  Sex Symbols- while men may be the catalysts for creating a "sexual-allure" of women, women seemed only too happy to oblige by wanting to make themselves "desirable". This is noted by Boris who said that women wanted to work as the idealised flight attendants even before "their popular metaphoris as "sex objects of the sky."  Desirable - Early female liberation in the 1930's unfoiled when women's "presence [in the workplace] contested masculine prerogative". Women's progress in the late 1960's and early 70's, is undercut by the female want to be "desirable". This was demonstrated in the 1930's, when the "Rosies" objected to their uniforms because they wanted to feel desirable and not be discriminated against for their femininity as described in the quote, "How is anybody going to know what a glamour girl is if she's garbed in mechanised attired?" Rules of workyar
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