By Janet McCabe
An creation to feminist movie concept as a discourse from the early seventies to the current. McCabe strains the huge ranging theories produced via feminist movie scholarship, from formalist readings and psychoanalytical ways to debates initiated through cultural reports, race and queer idea.
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Additional resources for Feminist Film Studies: Writing the Woman into Cinema (Short Cuts)
She identifies that the text is conditioned by two co-existing discourses - melodrama and realism - that enable it 'to work both on a symbolic, "imaginary" level, internal to fictional production and on a "realist" level, referring to the socio-historical world outside the text' (1988: 75). Melodrama contributes 'Manichaean moral frameworks' with known archetypes and polemic struggles while realism 'grounds the drama in a recognisable verisimilitude' (1988: 76). Analysing the figure of the woman realises the contested field of gender discourse, a negotiation between 'woman' as patriarchal symbol and a feminist cultural history involving real women: The image of the woman has ...
Crucial to the feminist study of psychoanalysis in cinema is a belief that scopophilic drives (fetishism and structures of disavowal), Oedipal narratives that find in favour of the male, the attraction to cinematic images based on archaic pleasures linked to the Imaginary are predicated on the concept of woman. 'An idea of woman stands as lynch pin to the system' advocates Laura Mulvey: '[It] is her lack that produces the phallus as a symbolic presence, it is her desire to make good the lack that the phallus signifies' (1975: 6).
This transvestism is constituted in the structures of male looking and identificatory patterns. Mulvey's work on gendered looking and pleasure in cinema paved the way in feminist film theory for the development of analyses and conceptual models that would address the thorny question of the female spectator. Dilemmas over defining the female spectator and explaining feminine visual pleasures structured by (masculine) voyeurism and fetishism are questions that absorbed others. E. Ann Kaplan, writing about women in Hollywood cinema, analyses that while the female can possess the 34 FEMINIST FILM STUDIES gaze and even look at the male character, she cannot desire within such a phallocentric textual system.