Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Film Studies

First Advisor

Kelly Sears

Second Advisor

Malinda Barlow

Third Advisor

Michelle Ellsworth


This paper discusses how film and dance can be manipulated to challenge the traditional male gaze and empower the female body. Women in film and dance are commonly passive objects that are evaluated through the male gaze. The male gaze objectifies women and makes them submissive in a patriarchal society. Women who defy this passive role, particularly virginal maidens who take control of their sexuality, are deemed a threat and in classic literature often face death. By contrast, empowered women, represented by the sirens of mythology, are empowered and control both their environment and those looking at them. This paper discusses the film DROP, which explores the layering of the actual image and the image through the camera. Through two contrasting movements, the film first explores the concept of virginal maidens and the traditional male gaze and then a contrasting movement controlled by the sirens themselves. The later movement is a conscious effort to empower women in film and make them come alive on their own terms. The paper discusses and contrasts how symbols, movement, camera placement and editing can be used to create an empowered female who is no longer subject to the male gaze.

DROP on Vimeo.webloc (1 kB)
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