Western Courier

Sexism in movies cannot be ignored

Tea Wheat, Entertainment Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Movies and television have captured the hearts of man-kind for decades. What viewers see on the screen is what they expect to encounter in real life, for example, the typical high-school cliques (that don’t always exist in the real world) and those cliché romances (sorry, but it’s unlikely you’ll fall in love with a vampire).

However, some things depicted in film are real-life scenarios and issues, and film can be used to combat these issues and give power to minority groups.

An example of this empowerment through film is the increase of inter-race couples and the LGBTQA+ community throughout the years. This change of focus in film throughout the years is the start to a very positive path that the film industry will hopefully choose to follow.

Though there is positive change in many areas of film, film has not always been a reformative area of art. Sexism is present in film history, whether it be in subtle or obvious ways.

When thinking about horror movies, for example, many may think of the classic shower scene in Psycho. For those who may not know, this scene depicts a woman in the shower, who is then brutally stabbed and murdered.

This idea of the shower scene is not only depicted in Psycho, but in countless numbers of movies throughout the decades. The best part? Most (If not all) of shower scenes are of women. While this may be coincidence, it continues the long history of sexualization of women in movies.

Whether it be the reoccurrence of women in shower scenes, or the voyeurism that many find to be “funny”, these things reinforce what is okay and what is not. For example, in both Psycho and Peeping Tom, Voyeurism is seen, and many watch this occur and don’t think much of it.

In the early ages of film, there were many times when a man would be watching a woman in secret and the ‘live audience’ would laugh about it- though men watching women change is not a laughing matter under any circumstances.

There are movies that generation to generation continue to watch, enjoy, and obsess over. In the Fast and the Furious movies, there is little female presence. While this may not be outright sexism, this sort of absence of women in films continues to support the silent oppression that women face in their daily lives.

While most movies and tv shows support these traditional roles for women, there are heroes like Mulan which empower and uplift women to follow their dreams and do what they want to do, no matter what society and social norms may think about it.

Additionally, even in Scooby-Doo sexism and female gender role reinforcement is apparent. Daphne and Velma are a prime example of this. While Velma is less attractive, she is extremely intelligent and stands her own. Contrary, Daphne is beautiful and often is depicted as less intelligent and is often the “damsel in distress”.

Daphne almost always needed one of the men of the group to come to her rescue, often Fred, who is more muscular and attractive (also reinforcing male stereotypes, but we’ll save that for another article).

This same type of gender role reinforcement in regard to beauty can be seen in Grease with the relationship between Danny and Sandy. Sandy is depicted as the “perfect” woman, but still does not fully catch the attention of the ‘bad boy’ Danny until she is all done-up and beautiful by society’s standards.

The sexism that is apparent throughout decades of film only reinforces what women experience on a day to day basis. While it seems as though the film industry may be taking a turn for the better and is representing women on a more positive note, there continues to be sexism in new movies.

As time goes on, we can only hope that the film industry will continue to minimize and eventually eliminate sexism in movies.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Sexism in movies cannot be ignored