"Women are weak." This is what the overlaying theme that many films seem to present to its viewers. The role of the woman in films has varied over the years, from being very helpless to being the one to turn to when in danger. This role has been viewed by others as that women are the victim, someone women can relate to, to being quite the opposite of feminism.
Leonard Pitts compares women in films today with the women in comic books in his article entitled "Hostages to Sexism." Comic book women, such as Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four, in her early years was constantly being held captive by the enemy, needing her male companions to come to her rescue. On the rare occasion that she would come into combat, she would collapse from the great amount of pressure put upon her that she would need rescuing. Times have changed drastically for Sue Storm over the last thirty years. Now she plays as much a part in the Fantastic Four as the other Fantastic Three.
Although there has been an advance in the part of the woman in comic books, Pitt points out the role of the woman has not. For instance, no matter how tough a woman is, she always is the hostage, such as in the movie Mortal Kombat Pitt points out. He says this because it has become so common, we come to expect it out of habit. We will never be able to believe that a woman could save one of our action heroes if needed because we have been socialized to accept that women are weak and men are not. Pitt closes saying that it is not just men who have what it takes to be a hero.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is Jody Fosters role in the Movie Silence of the Lambs. In Lynn Dorninks article "Silencing of the Feminism", she writes about how Clarice Starling, Fosters character, goes from the weak typically viewed woman, to a "masculine" female at the end of the film. Starling, joining the FBI, which is viewed as male dominant, starts off as a frail weak woman who goes off to interview the psychopath Hannibal Lecter. Lecter soon breaks her, causing her to run off. Dornink points out much symbolism and association with Starling as she slowly but surely becomes the "masculine" female that she was always meant to be when she kills the antagonist, proving her coming of "manhood." This does prove that there is strong determined women in films, but at the cost of masculinating them.
In the article "Breathing Easier With a Rare Film", Dorothy Gilliam states that the film Waiting to Exhale is a film that portrays women as what they really are; women. It is a black female buddy movie, which women, both black and white, can relate to. Her friends feel that they can put themselves in the shoes of the characters and relate to what is happening. The women in the movie were all friends and their friendship grew throughout the movie, just like a group of friends would in real life. It also deals with reactions to good and bad choices and then standing by their friends' decisions. Gilliam concludes stating that the movie may or may not change women's choices in everyday life, but either way, the results will be amazing.
Through these articles, and with the help of their authors, the point, that a woman's role in movies today is ever changing, is proven. Be it a helpless damsel in distress to damsel of destruction to damsel in day-to-day life, the role of the woman has become undefined in todays movies.

Works Cited

Dornink, Lynn, "Silencing the Feminine."

Gilliam, Dorothy, "Breathing Easier with a Rare Film," Copyright 1996
The Washington Post

Pitts, Leonard, "Hostages to Sexism,"
The Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta Constitution, September 19, 1995