Classic Hollywood and The Unseen Pregnancy


The Production Code of 1934-1968 was a set of rules that studio films were expected to follow. These rules included not showing “impolite” subjects such as prostitution or brutal murder; among these impolite subjects was childbirth. Even though films could mention the word “baby,” the word “pregnancy” could not be used. Characters weren’t even allowed to look pregnant; they would be disguised under big coats or oversized robes. Additionally, childbirth was strictly prohibited under the code. This caused women to appear pregnant in one scene, and by the next scene, she would already be carrying a child. This code was examined under the law and abolished in 1968.

For Further Reading:

Read part of the 1930s-1960s Production Code here.

Discussion Question:

How does society presently depict women in film? How does it vary by culture?

Action Item:

Watch a classic Hollywood film and see if you can spot any “surprising” feminist moments.


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