4 Stereotypical Roles of Women in Film

Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

The presence of the male gaze in films throughout history has led to the development of several tropes that can be seen in hundreds of films. The male gaze refers to the perspective of heterosexual men portrayed through various media, often due to the large number of men in positions of power in mainstream media. Today, we are breaking down some of the most prevalent tropes in popular films.

  • The Cool Girl

    Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

    A newer film trope that has been brought to many people’s attention in recent times is the idea of the “Cool Girl”. The ideal “cool girl” is a woman who is traditionally beautiful on the outside but her personality has male qualities. She is seen through the lens of the male fantasy, a woman who is “just like one of the boys” but men can still enjoy her appearance. This trope is so ingrained in today’s society that this expectation that men have put onto women is being perpetuated by women themselves. A few examples of films that explore this trope are Transformers and Gone Girl. The cool girl trope is harmful to women because it prioritizes male qualities over female qualities. As a result of this, women feel the need to focus on trying to conform to a “man’s world” instead of breaking free from that expectation and taking the steps for women to rise in society.

  • The Girl Next Door

    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

    The “Girl Next Door” trope is one that has been around since the 1950s. The
    “girl next door” is a woman who is seen as the perfect picture of wholesome and pure. Many times, she wants nothing more than to just live a modest life and have a family. Examples of films that contain this trope include, The Spectacular Now and Meet Me in St. Louis. These films portray women that are willing to morph their goals into whatever the man’s goals and aspirations are. This further emphasizes the idea that a woman’s purpose in life is to serve the man. This particular trope is harmful because it does not allow women to be multidimensional, instead they are only seen as perfect for the man and not as individuals who have many of their own goals and dreams.

  • The Transformation Girl

    The Transformation Girl
    Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

    The transformation girl is a trope that makes a spectacle of an “unattractive” girl — usually sporting curly hair, comfortable clothes, and glasses. She then undergoes a transformation of sorts that includes removing her glasses, straightening hair, and dressing in more revealing clothing. After the transformation, boys begin to flock to them and their lives change in many positive ways. This trope was especially prevalent in the early 2000s and can be seen in movies such as The Princess Diaries.

    This trope is still used today, seen in new Netflix series Insatiable. In the show, an overweight girl undergoes a transformation, becomes skinny, and becomes seen as significantly more attractive to the other characters. The transformation girl trope instills the idea into women’s heads that they need to change to be happy or liked. It also pushes for unrealistic beauty standards.

  • The Happy Housewife

    The Happy Housewife Scaled
    File:Huisvrouw in modelkeuken bezig met het maken van een taart., Bestanddeelnr 252–1641.jpg” by Willem van de Poll is licensed under CC0 1.0

    The expectation of women to hold down a home, care for children, cook and clean, and to do it all with a cheery attitude and smile has existed for all of time. Female characters oftentimes fall into these stereotypes and lack depth as a result. This trope is visible in films such as The Stepford Wives, where women in the town slowly turn stereotypically bland. The representation women get in these roles often includes being submissive to their husbands and engaging in very stereotypical activities like household chores, baking or caring for the children.

    Here at Mariposa Sisters, we believe in fighting for global equality through empowering women to tell their authentic stories. People everywhere should be more aware of the presence of these stereotypes in the media we consume; while any representation of women in film can be beneficial, women are multidimensional and deserve to be uplifted through a more thorough representation rather than cast in specific roles. By becoming more aware of how these tropes can be harmful as well as fighting for a stronger voice in the entertainment industry, women can pave the way for a change in how they are represented in the mainstream media — and in real life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *