History in the Making

Document Type



Male dominance of Hollywood productions solidified inadvertently in the 1930s through the implementation of Catholic morality on screen, which precipitously narrowed the scope of experiences and desires of women depicted in entertainment media for the ensuing decades. Tracing back the behind-the-scenes origins and development of Hollywood’s persistent male gaze, it becomes clear that women in the entertainment industry had some real agency and power in the 1920s, prior to the Catholic Legion of Decency’s interference in movie making. These censorship rules, which became known as the Hays Code and were argued to be good for the whole of society, consequently institutionalized a male gaze in films and went on to influence perceptions of women for entire generations—which are being challenged in part by the Me Too Movement today. The chain of events that explains how women on screen in the 1940s and 1950s were pressured to fit narrow standards considered pleasing to men, shows how Hollywood shifted from a once relatively equitable industry in the twenties and thirties, to a male dominated one due in large part to outside religious influences.