The Celluloid Ceiling: Women, Film, & Representation

a black and white collage of a surreal science fiction scene with a row of Black women with afros stand to the side, and a cut out of Angela Davis standing confidently.
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When we talk about the literal representation of women in media and pop culture, the world of film is home to a legion of examples of how the female voice has been shunted to the sidelines. Behind the camera as well as in front of it, women’s marginalization is the basis for some of feminist theory’s key concepts, from the male gaze to the Smurfette principle. This collection of articles and analysis highlights Hollywood’s woman problem, looking at everything from the dearth of Black women in sci-fi films to the moralizing-yet-titillating construction of the rape-revenge narrative to the limits of autonomy in documentaries. These seven pieces work together to underscore that in film, what’s not visible tells just as much of a story as what’s right there on the screen.


A Galaxy of Our Own: Searching for Black women in science-fiction film | Elyce Rae Helford

Celluloid Savagery: Lost-in-the-wild films reveal how Hollywood sees the essentials of gender | Julie Craig

Female Trouble: The CrazyBloodyCool world of girls in horror cinema | Tammy Oler

Trans Spotting: The media’s myopic vision of transsexuals | Julia Serano

Mama Said Knock You Up: The moral agenda of pregnancy plotlines | Summer Wood

The Brave Ones: The evolution of rape-revenge films | Tammy Oler

Half the Story: When will Western documentaries realize they’re using the wrong lens? | Richa Kaul Padte

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