The Motion Picture Production Code was in essence, a set of rules in place for American film production companies between the years of 1930-1968. These rules were in so many words, a set of conduct for appropriateness which determined which films would and would not air, based on their accordance. The movie I initially think of when I think of everything that the code was supposed to disallow is the 1968, Paramount film Barbarella, staring actress and activist, Jane Fonda.
I believe that this movie, albeit utterly ridiculous in it’s actual context, was intended to be a post-code come-back statement, where the character of Barbarella does not play the a mother, wife, or victim, but rather in her own right, a hero. This film which coincidentally was produced just after the code was no longer relevant shows a different type of story; one where the woman is capable of saving the day, or in Barbarella’s case, an entire galaxy. I won’t go as far as to say that the film encompasses what I believe feminism to wholly be, but I will say that for its time, the film was a take-back of cinematic female power and the beginning of second-wave feminism in all of it’s angst-driven glory.
Fonda has stated that although she has been a long-time self-proclaimed feminist, it in actuality took her until her later years to determine just exactly what this meant. I think we’re all trying to figure out how to actively be the feminists we want to be and Fonda, well, she’s always done just fine on that front.