How women are represented in film is something that we have all been exposed to in some way or another. Unless you’ve never seen a movie, you’ve probably seen a woman in a movie. We all have childhood memories of trying to be just like our favorite character, be it Hermione Granger, Belle, or Luke Skywalker. From our earliest days, we are impacted by the entertainment around us. This makes positive representation far more important than we realize. So the short answer is that we should ALL care, the positive representation of women in film is crucial
Ever since film began, the portrayal of women on screen has been flawed and important. The early tropes written into female characters are crucial in understanding and analyzing film from a feminist perspective today. If you’d like to learn more about the historical angle of this issue, feel free to skim over my paper on the historical background of female representation in film:
Although the representation of women in film has improved, it is by no means perfect, not even close. Th next time you watch a movie, try putting it through the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test asks if 1) a movie has at least 2 female characters, 2) If they have have a conversation with each-other, and finally 3) If the conversation topic does not involve a man. If you pay attention to these requirements when watching movies, you’ll realize how few films stand up to the Bechdel test. However, the Bechdel test is not the end all be all of positive female representation, a gray area that I explore in my full paper. As previously mentioned, the negative representation in film has not vanished, just shifted. If you’re interested in the dissection of a common modern film trope, check out the video below.
If you’d like to learn more about the present side of this problem, take a look at my full paper on the present issue and possible solutions: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14BfKwRmcxQb1CsLEiCjvnmqZ9nZkBmwG2mvZKCezMBc/edit
What can YOU do?
The issue of female representation in film is difficult to solve because it is much more of a societal issue. However, by becoming far more conscious of the media we consume, you can stop negative portrayals from negatively affecting your view of women in the real world. Obviously you’re not going to stop watching poorly written female characters overnight, I’ve probably watched Grease six times and I enjoy it every time, its just important to consume all media with a critical mindset. Becoming a conscious viewer is a long process that we all work at everyday in some way, but I hope I’ve been able to jumpstart your journey to to conscious viewership.
What can we ALL do?
As I mentioned previously mentioned, this issue is primarily societal, so it is difficult to make change on a larger scale. However, I do think that by hiring more female directors, producers and general film executives, women would be written in a more positive, realistic and developed ways. Female directors and producers represent a minuscule part of the industry and are disproportionately represented in comparison to other industries. More equitable hiring in Hollywood could be encouraged by government compensation or tax breaks for film studios that hire diversely. Additionally, by supporting female directors, we are showing that female made films can be successful. Recently, female director Greta Gerwig has gained a lot of attention for her woman centered and highly successful films such as Ladybird, Little Women, and 20th Century Women
I hope that I’ve been able to make you more conscious of the issues with female representation in film and that I’ve inspired to look further into this complex and fascinating issue. A next step could be as simple as just watching a female directed movie! Notice the different ways that female characters are written in different films and the different tropes that they are written into. Notice the imprint that film and entertainment make on the world around us. With just a little more consciousness, we can all make positive change in the way that film affects the world.
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