Analyzing the Theme of Femininity in His Girl Friday 1940 Movie


Analyzingthe Theme of Femininity in His Girl Friday 1940 Movie

Thefilm, HisGirl Friday,which is directed by Howard Hawks, highlights femininity andmasculinity in the society. The film challenges the traditionalvalues and their depiction of gendered roles. It illustrates atolerant range of sexual values that influence the thinking towardsmale dominance, gender politics, and female inequality in thesociety. It also explores equality between the sexes as opposed toexploitation that emanates from societal values. It is evident fromthe film that one can achieve political-sexual parity usingintelligence and socio-economic independence. However, striking abalance between the customary expectations and personal goals is noteasy due to challenges in identifying the right path.

Genderpolitics remains a controversial matter, especially in the moderncivilization. The issue emanates from the social revolution regardingthe portrayal of women and gender-centered roles. HisGirl Fridayreflects the conflicts and challenges that women face due totraditional norms and collective values. Hildy embraces femininity asshe accepts the traditional principles, but seeks to ensure personalsuccess (Hawks, 1942). It is also evident that success for women issometimes jeopardized by values and norms in the society. Often,stereotypes in the society make it difficult for women to realizetheir personal goals. For instance, making a decision on whether toleave the newspaper business to start a family was not easy forHildy. Feminism and women remain critical issues in the modern world.Men are slowly appreciating the need to empower women as a means toachieve their goals as well as enhance equality.

ThesisStatement:Womenfail to realize their professional and life goals owing to thestereotypes about their abilities and the traditional perspective ongender-centered values in the society.


Hildyis seen as ‘one of the boys’ in the film, although she is awoman, with a reporter referring to her as ‘Hildegard’. Malecolleagues have accepted to treat her as a man due to his attitudesand actions. At one point, they invite her to participate in a pokergame, which was a reserve for men. However, they assert that Hildywas not competent enough to triumph in a male-dominated field. Hercompetence is not a threat to reporters. Like many other women, sheundergoes pain and struggles in a male-dominated community (Hawks,1942). Often, men feel threatened by powerful and successful women inthe society. As such, they devise ways to clip the authority ofwomen, including stereotyping.

HisGirl Fridayis a progressive film that shows a compassionate and likable womanwho chooses to engage in achieving personal goals. She bypasses thetraditional role and depiction of women. Over time, she takes ‘manroles’ without losing her femininity. However, Walter appearsmasculine hence, has a controlling attitude and authority. He issincere and passionate about his actions without losing his authorityas a man (Hawks, 1942). The film reinforces the traditional thinkingabout masculinity and femininity. Female professionalism andfemininity remain unrivaled in the current society. It is for thereason above that women continue to advocate for better treatment andaccess to opportunities.

Nonetheless,social systems and inherent characteristics jeopardize their effortsto encounter gender-based challenges. Men for lack of qualified andwilling women to undertake roles in the society dominate socialsystems. Natural abilities also form critical consideration in thearticulation of issues and activities. Often, women’s emotionalhonesty affects their decisions and choices in life. Men willsometimes hide their real emotions due to stereotyping. However,there are women in the society who engage in deeds and activitiesthat are challenge the traditional thinking about gender. In thefilm, Hildy is said to think faster than most men where she gets thelatest news faster than other people (Hawks, 1942).


Inanother scene, Walter shows significant discount for essentialmasculinity elements. The notion is seen where he takes Bruce’sfamily to dinner. Walter sits between the couple after which he usesHildy’s match to light a cigarette although he does not offer it toBruce (Hawks, 1942). The issue is not any different in the currentsociety where male moves towards enhancing their masculinity even inthe presence of other men. The contest for male power is evidentamongst people.

WhenWalter gets Bruce arrested, it takes efforts from Hildy to have himreleased. She appears to have a great relationship with men althoughthey have opinionated views about her. In the pressroom, forinstance, men gossiped that Hildy could not go for months withoutworking (Hawks, 1942). As such, Hildy considered that men had strayedfrom their roles and masculine ideas. The few powerful who challengethe traditional thinking about gender are viewed as threats to men.Often, they act as advocates of women empowerment and equality in themodern society. The society has opportunities that benefit both menand women. It takes courage, goals, and determination of anindividual to achieve positive outcomes.

HisGirl Fridayhas few sets than the original play, TheFront Page.It has an overlapping dialogue with fast-talking newspaper people.Moreover, the camera movement is appropriate with significantconsideration of the rules. It is also noteworthy that the plot hasthe core elements of romance to the amusement of the audience. Thefilm is un-cinematic where gags/minute ratio is high making theaudience miss some of the views. Feminism is a major theme in themovie. Right from the beginning, the film suggests that a woman canachieve success in a male-dominated world. The film lacks cinematicflourish, but the issue does not deter its greatness in addressingthe theme. The film also utilizes the auteur theory where the plot isa reflection of the director’s creative vision.


Hawks,H. (1942, Jan. 11). His Girl Friday. YouTube.Retrieved from