Film and Gender
On Question 1:
The film that I watched was “Pretty Woman” which
starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
I have not seen this film before.
In the film, Julia Roberts plays Vivian Ward who works as a prostitute
and met Richard Gere who plays Edward, a powerful businessman. The film depicts their love story and gender
roles of men and women in society.
On Question 2:
In this film, the role of Julia Roberts as
Vivian Ward who works as a prostitute encountered gender oppression due to her
social class. Notably, as indicated in
the findings of Young Women’s Empowerment Project (2009), gender oppression
affects women in the sex trade (p. 33).
One example was when Vivian went to shop for
clothes in the high-end shopping district and she was met with reproach by the sales
attendants. The attendants pushed her
away on the criteria of appearance based on her racy clothes as a prostitute
even if in truth Vivian had a lot of cash to spend on clothes from their shops. The action portrayed by the women in the
shops tells that in society there is an invisible class system observed. The women from the shops only serve the women
from higher social class who are their loyal clients who can afford their
highly expensive clothes. Thus, when a
woman from a lower social class entered their store they did not meet her with
acceptance and dismissed her immediately as someone who cannot afford their
clothes. But when Vivian went shopping the next day with someone from upper
class status, the sales attendants gave Vivian all the attention that she
needed. In this scene, the power came
from a man which is often depicted today. Hence, women often call breaking the
glass ceiling in order to achieve higher steps in career and achievements and
destroying barriers in getting to this goal (Warrell, 2013).
Another example of gender representation was
when the lawyer called Stuckey learned that Vivian Ward was a prostitute and he
made an advance on her. The portrayal of
this scene shows that women are still met with oppression even if they are
within the proximity of power and more so when Stuckey knew that Vivian was
from a lower social class. In this scene, the lawyer demeaned a woman to take
him against her will. Given the denial,
he turned violent and physically abused her.
This is scene shows that society’s portrayal of gender oppression on
women. Notably, the next scene provided
help when Edward entered into the room.
This provided a window for Vivian to escape from the oppression. Often,
in society the silent voices of women in this state of oppression do not get
the same support and window out of the viciousness (Iman et. al., 2009).
On Question 3:
The purpose of such representations is that men
and women are both guilty actors of propagating gender oppression. In the scene where Vivian only wanted to buy
some clothes, the women demeaned her by denying to her that simple basic need
to get clothes. Vivian was not even in the act of stealing, but was
intentionally out to buy and pay for her goods. Yet, the women in the scene
denied her this. In the scene with the
lawyer, it shows that men of power and of stature do not mean elevated stature
of moral standing. These men are still
out to abuse and deny the rights of their victims.
As the scenes were required for the story to
show the emancipation metaphor of Vivian from the oppression, it shows the
viewer that there is a higher moral ground that can be pursued despite social
class, stature in society. It teaches a
lesson of how a person can treat another person with respect regardless of
social stigma, bias. Though this is the
portrayal, the viewer must also learn the emancipation from oppression. In the movie, there is a balance of portrayal
that can be learned.
On Question 4:
The scene where Vivian leaves to study and get
herself to a better place than where she is reminds me of readings on
oppression on young women and the many organizations that are present to help
this disenfranchised group in society.
It shows that though there may be positive organizations alleviating the
state of this women, much help is still needed into providing self-care and
developing self-worth for this women.
More importantly, when at the end of the movie
Vivian says “She rescues him right back” portrays the power that women can play
to change circumstances of people in dire need of help. Edward played a powerful business man but still
need rescuing. As depicted in previous
readings, a woman can play strong lead in society.
On Question 5:
Watching the movie with learnings from class is
a different experience from watching the movie as purely for entertainment.
Definitely, the movie is an eye-opener regardless if this was released in 1990.
The subject matter and portrayal are very contemporary which unfortunately
should not be the case. We still find ourselves in a society where women turn
to sexual trade for monetary gratification.
The movie is an effective tool to bring the message across. Hence, there is much responsibility that
falls on media portrayals. Lloyd (2010) emphasized this when she called out a
major American broadsheet when it referred to its subjects sending a different
meaning and bias.