This essay considers the historical and conceptual framing of the American better films initiatives of the early twentieth century. Starting with the observation that the film betterment campaigns coincided with the moment women en masse began to be admitted to decision-making processes of government and civic enterprises, the article connects the advances achieved in both spheres with the downplaying of better films achievements by historians of cinema. In doing so, it calls for a more complex explanation of this so-called movement in order to understand women's active participation in their own social subordination. It proposes that women's well-documented exclusion from politics, and the systematic exemption of their collective and individual activity in matters of social organization and politics, should be taken into greater consideration by theorists of cinema.

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