I think the term “feminist” is too sexist, but there are points to be made

by Andrea Elizabeth

The first chapter of Amy Lawrence’s Echo and Narcissus, (see previous two posts) titled “The Pleasure of Echo, the “Problem” of the Speaking Woman” is mostly about the development of sound recording and what it does to people’s voices. It isn’t till the end on page 33 that she gets deeper into the subject,

“In the following chapters I analyze a group of films that each construct woman’s speech as a “problem.” In all of these texts, the speaking woman disrupts the dominant order. The language she speaks is an affront to male authority and middle-class decorum; her very ability to make sounds is fraught with obstacles; and, in the final instance, the story she tells threatens to undermine the patriarchal order. As these films show, the “problem” of the speaking woman provokes increasingly severe methods of repression because she refuses to be silenced. Attempts to stop her from speaking rupture classical conventions of representation, however, and expose the way patriarchy uses language, image, sound, and narrative to construct and contain “woman.” In the next two chapters I use literary methodologies to deconstruct the creation of woman’s “voice” through words; analyze silent film’s juxtaposition of language with visual conventions for depicting speaking women; and confront early sound film’s striking potential for presenting women’s speech—a potential that was to be compromised and subverted by the conventions of classical Hollywood cinema.”

I would only add that off the top of my head, even now, authoritatively verbal women are often the villains. The evil queen in Once Upon A Time is what comes to mind. Heroines are often ignorant of what’s going on, if not ditzy. And I think that most men are more comfortable with that. If you challenge this, then it becomes a competition of competence, and even if men win this, it could be the result of cultural conditioning and nurturing, or male-oriented values that don’t include women’s strengths. Then you have the minority women winners who shock everyone. Like Kacy Catanzaro

But look how diminutive she is and childlike she sounds, so she stays lovable.

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