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Hollywood’s Postwar Feminine Masquerades

Hollywood’s Postwar Feminine Masquerades

Masculine Women, Blonde Goddesses, and Passing for Normal

Chapter Seven Hollywood’s Postwar Feminine Masquerades
Projections of Passing
N. Megan Kelley
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines representations of women and issues of femininity and feminine performance with respect to anxieties about authenticity and passing. A number of Hollywood films featured masculine women who played with categories of masculinity, such as Calamity Jane, Johnny Guitar, Touch of Evil, and Sayonara. Other films, like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Peyton Place, and All about Eve, implied that women were performing femininity or raised the issue of “passing for normal.” The chapter considers how idealized, overly constructed gender representations in Hollywood films reinforced rather than negated the ambiguity of gender and how femininity itself was suggestively constructed as a passing performance. It explains how Hollywood's images of feminine masculinity lent credence to perceptions that gender categories were breaking down and how representations of ambiguous women in Hollywood films refused to focus on anxiety.

Keywords:   femininity, feminine performance, authenticity, passing, Hollywood films, masculine women, feminine masculinity, ambiguous women, anxiety

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