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Women's Animation

Women animators with a distinctive feminine and/or feminist perspective

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Women animators themselves have mostly been resistant to being grouped by gender, but it may be useful to look at this work as a whole, as preoccupations and approaches become apparent which have started with women's animation and spread to the mainstream.

Although it has areas of male dominance, the world of animation is much more open to women than the film industry as a whole. Explanations for this may include the connections with the idea of craft, the possibilities for small-scale production or the possibility of succeeding as a director without aggressive egotism. Traditional 'female' values of patience, endurance and attention to detail are at a premium in the animation industry.

There is a strong strand of women's animation which takes as its theme 'the personal as political', dealing, sometimes autobiographically, with subjects such as sexual abuse and eating disorders. A preoccupation with the body is a common feature, either in terms of subject, as in Kayla Parker's Cage of Flame (1992), about menstruation, or in the incidental portrayal of 'real' bodies of Joanna Quinn's animation.

There is often a frank and earthy expression of sexuality which is a million miles away from the stereotyped cartoon sexiness of Jessica Rabbit or the big-eyed babes of Japanese anime. There has been a tendency for women to use animation as an intimate, confessional means of expression. Dream-like flights of fantasy, as in the work of Alison de Vere and Petra Freeman are an extension of the validation and projection of the inner world which may be what many women animators find so satisfying.

In the last decade, elements of 'Women's animation' have started to appear in films by men, with a greater preponderance of self-revealing psychological themes affording a valuable insight into masculinity.

Ruth Lingford

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Alternative Fringe (1993)Alternative Fringe (1993)

Simple but perceptive animation about an unfortunate haircut

Thumbnail image of Decision, The (1981)Decision, The (1981)

Animated short using fairytales to explore gender politics

Thumbnail image of Did I Say Hairdressing? I Meant Astrophysics (1998)Did I Say Hairdressing? I Meant Astrophysics (1998)

Witty educational animation about gender stereotyping of children

Thumbnail image of Fantastic Person (1992)Fantastic Person (1992)

Candy Guard animation about an idle dreamer

Thumbnail image of I'm Not a Feminist, But... (1986)I'm Not a Feminist, But... (1986)

Series of animated sketches highlighting a woman's lot

Thumbnail image of Mill, The (1992)Mill, The (1992)

Beautiful animated journey of a young girl through a dreamlike landscape

Thumbnail image of Ra: The Path of the Sun God (1990)Ra: The Path of the Sun God (1990)

Ambitious, multi-layered animation bringing Egyptian legends to life

Thumbnail image of Second Class Mail (1984)Second Class Mail (1984)

Mournfully funny short animation about a woman in search of the perfect man

Thumbnail image of Snow White and Rose Red (1953)Snow White and Rose Red (1953)

Animated fantasy about three women welcoming a bear into their home

Thumbnail image of Stain, The (1991)Stain, The (1991)

Dark animation about family relationships

Thumbnail image of Swan Song (1992)Swan Song (1992)

Dreamlike animated fairytale about a swan princess who captivates a king

Thumbnail image of Thumbelina (1954)Thumbelina (1954)

Animated film by Lotte Reiniger based on the classic fairytale

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Related People and Organisations

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Thumbnail image of Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981)Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981)

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Thumbnail image of Russell, Erica (1951-)Russell, Erica (1951-)

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