Feminism has been a prevalent theme in the crime film genre since its inception. In early films such as “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Basic Instinct”, female characters were often portrayed as victims or sexual objects. However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards more empowered and complex female characters in films such as “Gone Girl” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. This change is reflective of the growing acceptance of feminism in society at large.
Feminism is a movement that advocates for the rights and equality of women. The goal of feminism is to end discrimination against women and to achieve economic, political, and social equality for all women. Feminism has been a driving force behind many important changes in society, such as the right to vote, the right to own property, and the right to work. The feminist movement has also helped to bring about greater awareness of issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape.
The crime film genre has always been a popular one, with films like “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas” becoming classics. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in the number of female-led crime films. This trend is likely due to the growing acceptance of feminism in society. Female-led crime films such as “Gone Girl” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” offer a unique perspective on the genre, and are helping to change the way that women are represented in film.
So, what exactly is Feminism? Feminism is the belief that men and women are equal and should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the view that women should be able to live their lives without being restricted by gender roles. Feminism is about empowering women and giving them a voice. It is about equality for all people, regardless of gender.
Women have had to endure more change in their ranks than any other group throughout film history owing to changing cultural expectations. Both society and the movie business used to preach that women should be subservient to men and stay at home in order for the community and family to survive.
The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney and directed by William Wellman, is an exemplary gangster film of the early 1930s. As the genre suggests, The Public Enemy is a story about crime, violence and illegal alcohol consumption during the Prohibition era. The role of women in this film is one that perpetuates the stereotype of females as property of men. The opening scene features Mae Clarke being held hostage by gangsters, who threaten to throw acid in her face if Cagney does not cooperate with them.
This violent act is intended to serve as a warning to Cagney and his friends, but it also serves to establish Clarke’s character as a victim. Throughout the film, she is repeatedly beaten by Cagney and is ultimately killed by his hand. In the end, Cagney is unphased by Clarke’s death, which further cements her role as a victim and serves to establish Cagney’s character as a cold-blooded gangster.
Bonnie & Clyde, on the other hand, is a crime film that was released in 1967 and directed by Arthur Penn. The film stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. This film is much different from The Public Enemy in its depiction of women. Bonnie is not a victim; she is an active participant in the crimes committed by her and Clyde.
She is also shown to be just as cold-blooded as Clyde, if not more so. This is exemplified in a scene where Bonnie nonchalantly shoots a man who had insulted her. Clyde is somewhat taken aback by Bonnie’s actions, which serves to further establish her as a strong and independent woman.
The two films mentioned above demonstrate the changing role of women in society and in the crime film genre specifically. The Public Enemy represents the old guard, where women are depicted as victims who exist solely to serve men. Bonnie & Clyde, on the other hand, represents the new guard, where women are shown to be just as capable as men, if not more so. This change is reflective of the changing attitudes towards women in society and marks an important step forward for feminism.
In The Public Enemy, women are frequently seen as vixens or sexual toys by males. Women were often classified as mothers, mistresses, sisters, or ladies during this period. Ma Powers (Beryl Mercer), the protagonist’s mother, is easily duped by Tom’s phony tales about where he gets his money and doesn’t believe her “baby boy” could be a vile gangster. When Tom returns home with a barrel of beer, she does not ask where he got it; instead she takes a sip for herself.
Also, Gwen Allen (played by Mae Clarke), Tom’s girlfriend and eventual wife, is mainly seen as a sexual object by Tom and his friends. She is pretty and wears revealing clothing, which the camera often lingers on. In fact, one scene even shows her getting undressed without her consent while she’s passed out drunk. There are no female characters in The Public Enemy that are not portrayed in a negative light.
In Bonnie and Clyde, the women are slightly more liberated, but they are still very much under the control of men. Bonnie Parker (played by Faye Dunaway) is the only woman in the film who has any agency and she uses it to manipulate those around her, including Clyde Barrow (played by Warren Beatty), the man she’s in love with. She is also shown to be sexually aggressive, which was somewhat rare for female characters in film at this time.
Clyde’s partner in crime, C.W. Moss (played by Michael J. Pollard), is also shown to be under Bonnie’s control and she often uses sex to get what she wants from him. The other women in the film, Blanche Barrow (played by Estelle Parsons) and Buck Barrow’s (played by Gene Hackman) wife, are both shown to be weak-willed and easily controlled by the men in their lives.
In Thelma & Louise, the title characters are two women who are sick of being treated like second-class citizens by the men in their lives. They go on a road trip together and, after a series of events, end up becoming criminals on the run from the law. Thelma (played by Geena Davis) is a housewife who has been abused by her husband and raped by a stranger.
Louise (played by Susan Sarandon) is an independent woman who has been harassed by men her entire life. The two women stick together through thick and thin and, in the end, make the decision to drive off a cliff rather than be captured by the police. This film was groundbreaking in its portrayal of female empowerment and friendship.
Feminism in the crime film genre is often portrayed in a negative light. Women are shown as weak-willed, easily manipulated, and/or sexual objects. However, there are a few examples of films that feature strong female characters who defy the stereotype. Thelma & Louise is one such film. It is a story about two women who take control of their lives and refuse to be victims any longer.
Bonnie and Clyde is another film that features a strong female character in Bonnie Parker. She is shown to be sexually aggressive and manipulative, which was somewhat rare for female characters in film at this time. These films offer a more positive portrayal of feminism in the crime film genre.