Study Guide

All About Eve Women and Femininity

Women and Femininity

All About Eve is filled with strong women characters—Margo Channing is as powerful, outspoken, and successful as they come. She's got a younger boyfriend. She's tough as nails. Screenwriter Joseph Mankiewicz hated the fact that older women actresses had few career options, and that's what appealed to him about the story (source). Is this a feminist film, then?

Nope. Margo gives up her lofty ambitions when she gets married; she turns down a new play to spend time with Bill and tells Karen that a woman is nobody without a man to wake up next to. She finally gets her priorities straight. It's 1950, after all. Bette Davis said that one reason her marriages failed is that her husbands got tired of being "Mr. Davis." (Source)

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Are women in the entertainment industry treated differently today than they were in the time of All About Eve?
  2. Why does Margo leave acting in favor of being a wife?
  3. Does Karen actually have any influence over her husband?
  4. Would All About Eve work if the genders were reversed, if it were about male actors instead of female actors?

Chew on This

The film's message is that women really can't "have it all." That they even don't really want it all.

All About Eve may actually seem anti-feminist— Eve is conniving, Margo chooses wifehood over a career, etc.— but the movie features three strong female leads, which is something you can't say about many modern-day dramas.

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