Gender Structure In His Girl Friday, By Laura Mulvey

1331 Words 6 Pages
Most movies are structured for the male audience’s pleasure, “His Girl Friday” is no exception to that. Directed by Howard Hawks, “His Girl Friday” is a 1940’s screwball comedy that is full of wit and most describe as ahead of it’s time. On the surface, the movie seems like a great start of the commentary of role-reversal or being a working female of the time. However, upon deeper inspection that isn’t the case. “His Girl Friday”, though progressive for the time with the main female lead being masculinized, still fits the male-active/female-passive binary set for movies, according to Laura Mulvey’s theories.
In her article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Laura Mulvey writes of how film form is structured by the unconscious of the patriarchal
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Certain things reveal her still to be very feminine. The most major factor being her wish of being a normal housewife and no longer a newspaper man. She says many times throughout the film that she wants to quit her newspaper man attitude and settle down in Albany with her new husband. Her actions, however, continually said otherwise with the constant change of plans and a man’s life in the balance. Fashion was another way the movie reminded us that Hildy was a woman and had to conform to “womanly” patterns of behavior (Powers, 1974). The outfits Hildy wore were the type to scream “power woman” with her business outfits and bold patterns but were still feminine, nonetheless. The skirt and heels still reminded us that she was a woman. In a humourous way, particularly the scene where she tackled the warden, the skirt and heels showed us that she was limited in her ways, but pushed through to be like one of the guys and get her …show more content…
It isn’t the typical work/life relationship of the times. Walter encourages Hildy to go back the paper and to stay away from the typical housewife persona. In all other ways, however, Hildy is still the typical female. She behaves in a manner that the men accept her as one of them. “Hildy 's competence is not a threat to the reporters, but the price of admission to their all-male world, the price she has to pay to escape the world of female entrapment in domesticity.” (Powers, 1974) It goes to show that Hildy can change herself and try as hard as she can to fit into this male-world, but there are still parts of her that remain passive and come through. The film doesn’t let us forget that, no matter how progressive it starts to seem. The article by Powers also makes the point Hollywood show’s these social changes, women can be equal to men, but ultimately denies them as well. The audience is teased with the possibilities of change yet at the end the movie reveals that it’s not possible, but was used for comedic purposes all

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