hawk eyed feminism: film and TV – we’re still watching a man’s world
One rainy day (OK, it was probably sunny but this makes me feel better about hanging out in my PJs) I was in the mood for an ultimate “girl power” flick. You know, something to inspire a metaphorical fist punch in the air. So searching for films to download hire I asked my dear friend Google what the world had to offer me. I typed in “best films with empowering women.” Let’s just say the choices were scarce and more often than not, debatable.
Out of concerned curiosity, I squinted with cynicism and typed in “best films with empowering men”. News to me, it turns out men aren’t empowering with Google spitting back the same discussions and Top Ten lists relating to the gender originating from Venus. Oh wait…it’s probably because WHO WOULD SEARCH FOR THAT?! With strong, male characters dominating the big screen it’s unnecessary to search for such a descriptor because shitloads of films have empowering men in them – duh.
Recently, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media published a research report called Gender Roles & Occupations: A Look at Character Attributes and Job-Related Aspirations in Film and Television. It confirms what many of us feel is the current situation but arms us with statistics to grenade launch into people faces, I love a good S-bomb. You can check out the key findings here, which also include the scope of the research, but basically they looked at three genres: Family Films, Prime-Time Programs and Children’s Shows. Here’s a quick roundup of some heavy fire-power findings:
- The ratio of male to female characters is 2.53 to 1 in family shows, 1.57 to 1 in prime-time programs and 2.25 to 1 in children’s shows.
- Only 11% of family films, 19% of children’s shows, and 22% of prime-time programs feature girls and women in roughly half of all speaking roles.
- The percentage of characters wearing sexy attire in family shows: M=8% F=28.3%, prime time programs: M=8.4% F=36.2% and children’s shows: M=10.1% F=18%.
- The percentage of characters in the C-suite (a corporation’s most important executives) in family films M=96.6% F=3.4% and prime-time programs M=86% F=14%.
- The percentage of characters who are high level politicians in family films M=95.5% F=4.5% and prime-time programs M=72.2% F=27.8%.
- The percentage of characters with STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in family films M=83.8% (134) F=16.3% (26) and prime time programs M=78.9% (56) =F+21.1% (15).
The report is easy to read and provides many more valuable statistics and insights into gender and the media, specifically in relation to the material viewed by young people. It is clear that young women need more aspirational role models to be depicted throughout film and television. In the words of Geena Davis: ‘If she can see it, she can be it.’
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