What is the main argument in From Reverence to Rape?

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From Reverence to Rape (published 1974, reissued 1987) is an important and influential film criticism text by Molly Haskell. It is notable as one of the first examples of feminist film criticism. Subtitled "The Treatment of Women in the Movies," Haskell traces the representation of femininity and sexuality in the Hollywood film across multiple decades. The text cannot easily be reduced to one argument, as it is more Haskell's attempt to examine the image of women in film and connect it to a larger cultural context. Her book is less an argument and more a corrective, as, with the exception of Pauline Kael, there had been very few women working in film criticism and film studies. So the book offers a fresh, feminist look at the Hollywood film industry. It is also notable as one of the first works of film criticism that foregrounds sex and sexuality, using it to discuss both film and evolving notions in the culture at large.

Haskell looks at the subgenre known, somewhat pejoratively, as the "woman's film" and what these films reveal about masculine views (given that almost all filmmakers at this period were men) of women, namely how the women characters in these films are limited and can easily be reduced to a type, such as the extraordinary woman and the ordinary woman.

Other examples of feminist film theory are Marjore Rosen's Popcorn Venus and Laura Mulvey, who coined the term "male gaze" and wrote Visual and Other Pleasures.

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