In 1930, based on recommendations of the Hays Commission, the Hollywood establishment implemented a code of moral behaviors that were acceptable on film. Movies issued prior to the Production Code naturally tend to have more sexual content than later films. Prior to the Production Code, Westerns often portrayed women as strong, independent, and sometimes even equal to the male hero. Viewers today are often surprised at the open sexuality portrayed in pre-code Westerns. The institution of the code and its puritanical requirements concerning male-female relationships directly resulted in female actors portraying frail, dependent, asexual heroines with little individuality.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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