The Waking The Feminists movement at the end of 2015 reminded us that we must check ourselves, make strong decisions and examine our industry when it comes to equality. With this is mind, Moonfish co-director Ionia and I have been attempting to only watch films with female characters who are central and aren’t merely portrayed as a traditional gender stereotype. This has left us with surprisingly little to watch as in general, white, straight, middle-class men are the ones who choose what gets made for our screens these days.
It’s a long held belief that thing things men write about are the “big” things: war, natural disasters, politics, you know, things that matter. If you lived your life by our film and television industry you’d be forgiven for thinking these are the only things that we are entertained by. Whereas when women write and produce films about emotions, body image, relationships, children, they are all too often dismissed as fluff/chick-flicks. The second grade films you watch if you’ve already seen the number 1 film that week. Womens’ stories just aren’t being told on the same scale.
A recent report from the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that women made up just 11% of writers on the 250 top-grossing films, 7% of directors and just 23% of producers. In each instance, the female quota was up just 1% on similar figures from 2013, but down 2% on the results of a 1998 study. Wha’?
I sat around feeling depressed about this for a while until a ray of sun poked out from behind this slightly chauvinistic cloud. I realised that the majority of things that happen to women in their lives still haven’t been written about or put on our screens. So there’s a deep, untapped well of unused material. Writers have all of womens’ experience to pull upon!
How fantastic is that!? So much hasn’t been done yet. We have the power to send a message to the people who make the movies, telling them we don’t just want to see the same old war flicks and TV shows about white guys on Wall Street. Let’s stop allowing certain media mainstream outlets to define us by gender by telling us what we want to see on our screens.
How’s this for a terrifying fact: Menstrual blood, something that 50% of the population see on a monthly basis has been seen on Western mainstream TV twice. Twice! EVER!! Are we squeamish about blood in general? The buckets of wartime blood sloshed in front of our eyes on our screens would suggest otherwise. Is it any wonder that some men twist up into a panicked flap every time periods are mentioned, when they never get the chance to see them be normalised. The fact that we watch so many sitcoms about people sitting around chatting in a coffee house would suggest that we don’t just want to watch things we have no experience of.
Since taking a closer look at what I’ve been watching, I feel we’re not being offered the option to watch movies about anything other than white men nearly as often as we should. This is an industry crying out for change, which means women working in entertainment must be supported and encouraged more than they are right now. The screen entertainment industry follows the market, therefore as people who watch movies we have to start making different choices. We as an audience should open our eyes to this gender imbalance and open the eyes of others still snoozing away in the male-dominated back row.
Up your intake of gender-equal movies and don’t give the sexist ones your hard-earned cash quite so willingly. Maybe then we’d start to see a change.