Doll Clothes vs. Feminism

A connection can be easily drawn between “Doll Clothes” by Cindy Sherman, and second-wave feminism. In the short film, a doll representing a Caucasian woman in the 1970’s (when the movie was made), comes to life and starts choosing an outfit to wear. After flipping through many more masculine outfits, such as t-shirts, pants and shorts, she comes across a dress which she is very happy to wear. After having made her choice, hands of a woman pick her up, strip her down to underwear once again and put her back in the box. The significance and connection between the two are imbedded in several parts of this film, but the three moments that are the most significant are: First, when she leaves the box and searches for an outfit to wear, second, when she chooses a dress to wear, and last when the dress is removed from her body and she is put back in the box. 

Initially, the first exemplification of feminism to be analyzed is when the doll searches for an outfit to wear. Since she is naked to begin with perhaps Cindy Sherman is trying to show us women as blank canvas. It seems she is also indicating that the choices they make are what lead them to these socially constructed gender roles. The doll flips through shirts, pants, shorts, all clothing articles that both men and women can wear. However easy it is for the doll to choose one of those and be equal to men, she still chooses to be a “pretty doll” and wear a dress, much like the women of the time.

Next, the decision of the doll in wearing a dress symbolizes why it was such a struggle for feminists to acquire equality. Sherman is basically saying that women boycott themselves. Women can choose to be like men but because of the gender roles imposed on them culturally they still choose to be delicate and pretty (in a dress), in order to attract a man to care for them.

Lastly, feminism is depicted when the dress being removed from the doll and it is put back in the box. At the time in the film the doll is happily wearing her dress when these hands of a woman remove the dress and return the doll to the pocket. These hands seem to represent a larger force, a more powerful one that could be identified as feminism. It is perhaps implying that only a strong force with many women combined is strong enough to remove women from these roles and take them out of their comfort zones. As a result women will be turned back into a blank canvas much like the doll, stripped of all these restrictions imposed on them by men.

In conclusion, the movie “Doll house” by Cindy Sherman has a strong feministic influence. The three main moments that were evaluated were when the doll choose what to wear, when it chose a dress, and when it was put back in the box. After evaluating these three moments in the film we can recognize the social influences on women, and as a result see the stance taken by Cindy Sherman, in relationship to feminist thinking.  

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