This Scathing Tumblr Reveals the Overlooked Way Hollywood Is Sexist

May 2nd 2016

Tricia Tongco

How often do you see a decapitated woman? "Never, I’m not Ted Bundy," you might reply. But you probably do see one, or several, every day — while you’re driving down the freeway, skimming through Netflix, or walking around the mall.

Collage of "headless females"

As the new Tumblr “The Headless Women of Hollywood” illustrates, movie posters abound with the image of the “headless female,” a woman depicted with her head or face cut off.

Dirty Grandpa poster

The creator of the project, comedian Marcia Belsky, launched the Tumblr in late April and has since shared movie posters — old and new — of this disturbing trend, which reveal the movie industry’s sexism and objectification of women in a visual and undeniable way.

“It's a truly amazing time to be a headless female body part in Hollywood!” declares the Tumblr’s tongue-in-cheek slogan.

John Tucker Must Die poster

But seriously, why is Hollywood so scared of women’s faces?

On the “About” page for “The Headless Women of Hollywood,” Belsky asserts:

"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."

Crazy Stupid Love poster

For centuries, (male) artists have dominated art with the “male gaze,” a term coined in 1975 to explain the way women appear on film. As The Huffington Post pointed out, the subject of the male gaze is not quite human but mediated through the lens of a camera and the eyes of a man.

Sexism in Hollywood is nothing new: The film industry has also been heavily criticized for everything from the ageism older actresses face to its dismal gender pay gap.

Terminator poster

But Belsky brings much needed attention to an insidious form of sexism that people — those behind the marketing of these movies and those consuming them — might not see, since the objectification of women is so entrenched in popular media.

On the Tumblr’s “About” page, Belsky outlines the damaging messages that these images of headless women convey:

  • Women’s thoughts, feelings and personal agency don’t matter.
  • Women are the same and interchangeable.
  • Women’s sole purpose is to serve as a background to male-centered action.

Kingsman poster

Finally, Belsky succinctly expresses the frustration and obvious solution to this problem:

"DAMNIT, HOLLYWOOD!!! WE WANT HEADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"