Discuss some movies that depict the discrimination of women.Discuss some movies that depict the discrimination of women.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Okay, I'm going to floor you with my suggestion:  Mary Poppins.  Ha!  Actually, I could write a doctoral thesis on this topic alone.  I absolutely get a kick out of the fact that the minor character, Mrs. Banks, is a suffragette while she is alone or with friends (or even with the children) but turns into a dutiful and subordinate wife while Mr. Banks is around.  She even goes so far as to take off her "Votes for Women" sash saying, "Put these away!  You know how the cause infuriates Mr. Banks!!!"  Ha!

Although Mrs. Banks can be considered a proponent of hypocrisy, it's really Mr. Banks that is guilty of the discrimination here. He says, "I treat my subjects, servants, children wife with a firm but gentle hand."  (I just LOVE Mrs. Banks' subtle grimace during that line.)  Mary Poppins is Mr. Banks' nemesis.  She is a woman who simply will NOT be discriminated against.  Through her words and actions, she turns his own insults upon him.  When Mr. Banks intent is to fire Mary Poppins, she ends the conversation with the command for Mr. Banks "to take the children with you to the bank tomorrow, exactly as you proposed!"  Not to mention Mr. Banks intense anger at the fact that he cannot say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

The big irony is, Bert is absolutely NOT guilty of discrimination towards women and treats Mary Poppins always as an equal.  God bless him!


Okay, and I've got to mention another just for fun:  Pretty Woman.  Who can forget that iconic scene when Julia Roberts walks into the fancy dress shop and the ladies refuse to wait on her, ... and the sobs along with, "I have all this money and no one will help me!!!"  I suppose this is discrimination of a particular kind of woman, ... but a woman, no less.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts is a film based upon a true story of a young mother of three who seeks employment by asking her lawyer who has lost a personal injury suit for her to find her a job.  He hires her as a file clerk.  The other people in the office do not think that the lawyer, Mr. Edward L. Masry, should have hired Erin because of the way that she dresses, etc.  However,Erin runs across some files on a pro bono case that seems suspicious because the facts do not "add up."  When Erin asks to investigate the case herself, she runs up against a lack of faith in her ability, but she strikes out on her own anyway. Of course, Miss Brockovich overcomes the prejudices of the corporation's lawyers who belittle her and in the end wins cases against PG&E for contaminating the water supply of an area where there company has been.  Thanks to Ms. Brokovich's brillant and tenacious investigations, the company is ordered by a judge to pay $333 million in damages.

Ms. Brokovich has become a leading figure in the fight against chemical corporations.  When Monsanto contaminated the water in Anniston, Alabama, Miss Brokovich made an appearance during the hearings.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that you can find many different films that talk about how women endure discrimination and how the experience of women is a fundamentally different one than men.  From the realm of sports, I would say that two immediate films that jump out would be Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby and Marshall's A League of their Own. Both films show the challenges posed by athletic competition and success that women have to face in male dominated industries.  I would say that the theoretical condition of what it means to be a woman is seen in a very powerful way in Daldry's The Hours. In taking three different women's stories from three different time periods, the film weaves a very effective tapestry on the definition of "woman" and pulls from each different time period to reflect the challenges of prejudicial attitudes throughout the modern setting.  If you were interested in discussing the depiction of women in other countries, I would pay attention to Deepa Mehta's films, "Fire" or "Water," that help to broaden the definition of women by bringing the Western idea of gender freedom and autonomy to a stratified condition in India.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I tend to think of the movie "GI Jane" in which Demi Moore goes through the training to become a Navy Seal.  I don't think of it because it is a great movie or a great portrayal of a woman overcoming barriers and discrimination.

It includes those things, but in some ways lacks the complexity necessary to display them well.  The idea that she is physically and mentally tough enough to make it in this very masculine world is interesting, but she also played the role in a way that was meant to be sexy and so she still played into certain stereotypes and prejudices in order to try and make the movie successful.

Still an interesting one to look at I think.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many movies and tv shows that depict discrimination of women.  Since I recently watched the miniseries Boardwalk Empire I will discuss that.  You may not consider it a movie though.  I was struck by the depiction of women in the show.  The obvious discrimination involved the difficulty in women fighting for voting rights, but there are other important elements described.  Women were dependent on their husbands, and widows or women whose husbands had left them had few options.  For example, one woman has to first take a job after her abusive husband is killed, and then becomes a kept woman.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that if you want to see movies that truly show discrimination against women (or the subjugation of women) you should look at movies from past decades.  In those times, it was more taken for granted that women should hold a subordinate place and the movies reflect that.

For example, look at Woman of the Year, starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  It shows a woman being unable to enjoy her career and only being fufilled when she accepts more of a subordinate role.  Movies like that are much more upfront about their attitudes towards women than movies are today.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It's been awhile since I've seen it, but it seems to me Nine to Five is a comic portrayal of the discrimination which happens in many office settings. Women are expected to do more, do more menial tasks, stay late and sacrifice their personal time, as well as tacitly approve of sexual advances and innuendo. It's an older movie, and some of those issues have been effectively addressed with harassment laws and such, but I suspect it is still more true than not--including the fact that executives are predominantly men and the "office help" is predominantly women.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The 2011 film The Help depicts the discrimination of women, both minority and non-minority.

The servants are clearly given a set of social rules under which they are made to live. These rules are effectively a codified discrimination.

Additionally, many of the house-wives in the film are presented as filling subservient roles in the household, pursuing only vain or unintelligent pastimes and holding no real power in the family structure.

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mchandrea | Student, College Junior | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Upon reading "discrimination of women" the first film that came to my mind was a Persian film released 2008. The Stoning of Soraya Mby Cyrus Norwasteh. We watched this film for our socio - anthropology class and it definitely changed my views on film and women. 

It is about an innocent woman who has an abusive husband who wants to divorce her. They had children, boys and girls, but the husband only wanted to keep his sons and leave his daughters to the wife. The woman was accused of being unfaithful and she was stoned to death. She was an innocent woman played by powerful men.

This is definitely an eye-opener and clearly portrays sexism. I strongly suggest to watch this film if you are to know more about discrimination of women.