In the process, feminist ideologies in American cinema were hijacked, distracted, thwarted, and softened by masculine logic from the promising ambition to change and transform gender-biased patriarchal social structures. These three articles explained where feminism in American cinema came from, how it got to where it is now, and suggested ways to resolve issues and discover important answers.
Writing more than 25 years ago, Mayne (1981) gave two clearly distinguished meanings of women's cinema. One meaning is "films made by women," and the other meaning is "films made for women" (p. 27). The first part of her article attempted to explain how films within each of these traditional definitions were transformed by feminists over time, using the "woman at the keyhole" metaphor to show how women gained status from being objects of voyeuristic curiosity and into curious voyeurs themselves.
Mayne argued that there is a need to consider "what relationships women have had traditionally and historically, as filmmakers and as film consumers, to the medium" (p. 28) in order to "understand how women make movies" (p. 28). This argument founded on masculine (business-based) logic masks a basic natural fact: that men and women are different and that women and their feminist representation in cinema would be a constantly evolving and a permanently complex and elusive goal. Mayne explained that while it is true that having women at the other end of the keyhole is typical of masculine voyeuristic tendencies, it is also true that women love being seen, watched, and admired (p. 33-34).
They want to feel and look beautiful, not for any reason or motive that is a sign of inferiority, but because that is how they are wired, and nothing is bad about that. It is only "not good" if such a natural human tendency is associated with a (blonde-haired or beautiful-faced) lack of intellectual capacity. This hasty subjective reaction, no matter how one looks at it, and whether it is applied to women or men, is more a reflection of the one who makes rash judgments based on looks and appearances and not based on interior substance.
This is why women are the ultimate dialecticians, Mayne declared, recalling Ruby Rich, who argued that "for a woman today, film is a dialectical experience in a way that it never was and never will be for a man under patriarchy" (p. 40). Like Brecht's ultimate dialectician who lives the tension of two different cultures, "women bring into the movie theater a context and a certain coding from life outside the theater." This is perhaps the reason why women love different films in different ways, and why some films made by and for women reach their audiences in unique ways.
Feminism in cinema has certainly shaped the way actors act and filmmakers - both men and women - do films, making the human experience richer and more sophisticated. This is good for all, not only for men and the patriarchy to understand women a bit better, but also for women to better understand themselves and how they look at the world. Making, watching and critiquing movies are, indeed, different and complex (p. 41-42). Also, they reflect the natural differences between men and women that provide the artistic cinematic world a dialectic tension that contributes to its magic, as cinema as a powerful medium of gender-based artistic expression must necessarily clash with cinema as an