Started by stand-up comedian Marcia Belsky, the Headless Women of Hollywood tumblr is bringing attention to a disturbing film industry marketing formula that has been going on for way too long… removing images of women’s faces and heads from movie posters.
From decades ago to today, using women’s body parts to sell movies is nothing new. The recently created page shows numerous examples of posters from a variety of films such as The Graduate, to more current blockbusters that include animated films aimed at young children like Minions, all of which send the same message… “women exist primarily for the sexual pleasure and purpose of men.”
In a statement about the project, Marcia explains…
Headless Women seeks to bring attention to the still standard practice of fragmenting, fetishizing and dehumanizing the images of women we see in film, TV, book covers, and advertisement.
By decapitating the woman, she becomes an unquestionably passive object to the male gaze. The question of her consent is removed completely alongside her head, and her purpose becomes solely that of being looked at by men obediently. Her value is that only of her sexual appeal to men, and not of her personhood.
The consistent fragmentation of women’s bodies, with particular focus on the boobs, butt and lips, separates the sexualized female body parts from her wholeness. Thus, as fragmented parts, the viewer does not have to morally reconcile the woman who is being objectified with her complete humanness.
The head is first and foremost the thinking part of the human body, where our motivations and feelings are located. So, these images we are bombarded with on a daily basis tell us persistently that women’s thoughts, feelings and personal agency either don’t exist or are of no interest.
Further, facial features are the way we recognize other people. It’s the face that makes us individuals. That too is taken away, and we are taught that all women, especially ones that match the ideal, are the same and interchangeable…
The overwhelming presence of these headless women in the images we see both perpetuate and is symptomatic of the overall idea that women exist primarily for the sexual pleasure and purpose of men.
The point is (of course) not that every poster we see objectifies and fragments female bodies. The point is that many do and that cutting up female bodies into consumable, sexualized parts is such an accepted and standard marketing practice across the board – people tend not to even notice.
DAMNIT, HOLLYWOOD!!! WE WANT HEADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!