Feminism in the latter half of the twentieth century was a global movement with widespread and significant, if incomplete, uneven, and diverse, local effects. This essay considers the impact of feminisms on film and media culture and asks why it has proven difficult to historicize that impact. Histories of cinema generally fall within several dominant paradigms: world cinema; Hollywood or industrial cinema; and cinemas in contradistinction to the Hollywood industrial model—national art-film movements and avant-gardes resistant to the industrial paradigm and its influence. Though the contributions of women filmmakers and the influence of feminist thought might be registered within these paradigms, gender and feminist political analyses are not integral to their geographic and discursive rationales. Feminisms' historical roles in industrial, national, and transnational independent, art, and avant-garde cinemas has generally been acknowledged by displacement, in literal or qualitative rubrics no longer recognized as historical (auteurism). The impact of media feminisms is personalized and dehistoricized in the contributions of individual female directors, either by being alphabetized in reference formats (e.g., encyclopedias of women filmmakers) or by being articulated as a subgenre of national or regional cinemas (e.g., women directors in Mexico or the Middle East). This essay engages the problem of the world—gender and location in relation to feminisms' legacies—in relation to the role of the soup—the resources allocated to women's and feminist filmmaking in the postwar era by feminist structures of opportunity—to consider how those legacies might be historicized in the era of feminisms' eclipse.
Kathleen McHugh; The World and the Soup: Historicizing Media Feminisms in Transnational Contexts. Camera Obscura 1 December 2009; 24 (3 (72)): 111–151. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2009-011
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