Art & Culture / Film

HeadlessWomen is the account opening our eyes to Hollywood’s hypocrisy

Inside the industry dehumanising women one leg at a time.

Time really is up in Hollywood, and it really needs to be taken down one step at a time. Marcia Belsky – a stand-up comedian, podcast host, musician and writer – is calling out just how deep the misogyny runs in the industry, on cover at a time. Perhaps one of the most ‘accepted’ forms of everyday sexism is in fact one of the most overt: movie posters. Since 2016, Belsky has been putting together examples of how women are being dehumanised in visuals left, right and centre.

Having kept up the blog for the past few years, she’s since posted the most ridiculous examples on Twitter, and it’s seriously gone viral. Ridiculous being the operative word, Belsky jokingly names them the “most impressive” because there almost so OTT they’re laughable. Whether a solo leg à la The Graduate or a casual close up of an ample bosom, movie posters dehumanise women as though it was a mere marketing tool – which unfortunately, it is.

New and old, it seems that its as easy as just picking a body part and plastering it across the board. Even lead women are cast to the position of bait: the tease, the object of desire, the meat platter. Male gaze at its most potent, it disembodies women from humans into bodies at best, disfigured body parts at best. When you notice the number of headless women around, its hard to ignore: legs, boobs, bums, lips, all walking around posing on their own. Their personal agency, thoughts, feelings, words, eyes even, are removed and silenced. The ubiquity of butchered women – crossing all genres, forms, people – is so disturbingly normalised and trivial that it teaches society that “all women, especially ones that match the ideal, are the same and interchangeable”.

It’s only when scrolling through Marcia Belsky’s blog, Twitter or Instagram accounts, that you realise just how extreme and deep-rooted Hollywood misogyny has become. It’s gonna take a whole lot of inclusion riders, and a whole lot less chopping women up.

Take a look at Marcia Belsky’s project, The Headless Women of Hollywood here, and follow the initiative on Twitter here and Instagram here.

18 January 2019