'Headless Women Of Hollywood' Project Calls Out Objectification Of Women In Film

'By decapitating the woman, she becomes an unquestionably passive object to the male gaze.'

29/04/2016 13:58 | Updated 29 April 2016

Women in film are being objectified left, right and centre - whether it's on movie posters or the front of your favourite DVD.

In fact it's that ingrained and normalised that you might not have even noticed it's happening.

But Marcia Belsky did - and now she's calling out Hollywood for reducing women to mere sexual objects in her 'Headless Women Of Hollywood' project.

In each of the posters featured in the project, women's bodies - often their derrieres, breasts or legs - are the main focal point, however their heads are nowhere to be seen.

"The Headless Women project seeks to bring attention to the still standard practice of fragmenting, fetishising and dehumanising the images of women we see in film, TV, book covers, and advertisement," writes Belsky on her Tumblr project page.

"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."

Exhibit A.

Belsky writes that constantly fragmenting women's bodies - and focusing on their breasts, bottoms and lips - "separates the sexualised female body parts from her wholeness". 

"As fragmented parts, the viewer does not have to morally reconcile the woman who is being objectified with her complete humanness," she explains. 

She writes that the head is the thinking part of the body, where a person's motivations and feelings are located. So by not including the head of a woman in the images, it tells us a woman's thoughts and feelings "either don’t exist or are of no interest".

She adds that facial features, the way we are able to recognise people, is also taken away. Meaning the woman is no longer an individual, she is reduced to an object. 

"We are made numb in pop culture to female bodies remaining background to male-centered action," she writes.

"A right for men to focus on or ignore, but always there if and when he so chooses. And always there explicitly, first and foremost, for his intent.

"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.


Still not convinced it's an issue? Here are just some of the posters she's called out.

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