Have you ever thought about women in movies? Do you ever think about how women are represented on the big screen? Well, it’s pretty eye-opening once you dig deeper. Movies make up a large part of our society, influencing our everyday lives. Hopefully this blog post will help you ask why things seen old-fashioned when it comes to the film industry, even in 2016.
Check out Fandango’s guide to the Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2016. How many leading roles are women, better yet, how many women do you see pop up on the screen?
Three women are highlighted for roles throughout the entire clip. Only one was an head lead role, Ellen DeGeneres, as Dory from Finding Dory. Here lies the problem.
Thinking about recent movies you’ve seen, how many of them include at least two female characters, with names? Do those women talk to each other? And do they talk about something other than a man?…Hard isn’t it. Believe it or not, those three components make up the Bechdel Test. The test was created by Alison Bechdel in the 1980s.
According to the Huffington Post, out of all the movies nominated for Best Picture for the 2014 Academy Awards, three of the eight total movies passed the Bechdel Test. To top it off, none of the leading roles in those movies were played by women. Do you start to see a trend? It’s something we see all the time, but never really think about in depth until someone points it out. It’s 2016 and we’re still dealing with women under-represented in film. Something just doesn’t seen right.
Women are seen in some of the more popular movies of the age. In her article, Girls Against The World, Alexandra Donald looks at what types of movies girls and women are portrayed in within the past few years. She specifically looked at the Twilight franchise, the Divergent series, Gravity, and more. One astounding fact she points out is that “Only 30 per cent of speaking characters in 2013’s highest grossing films were women” (62). Donald explains that young girls need to see a sense of girl power in movies because women are so under-represented. If women are not represented in movies, then girls will grow up with the stigma that women cannot achieve those goals.
The newest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, passes the Bechdel Test. This clip discusses how the movie makes a good step towards feminism and women in film.
In Julia T. Wood’s book, Gendered Lives, she dedicates chapter eleven to Gendered Media. Specifically, the agenda setting theory refers to the media setting the agenda for what people see and think about. So because movies mainly showcase males, we do not think about the fact that women are not equally represented. Therefore we do not even think about such little details, like in the Bechdel Test, that make such a difference in our society. People learn by example, if women are not displayed as lead roles or any roles for that matter, in movies then other women won’t think about it or try to change the norms.
Looking back at your favorite movies, how many of them pass the Bechdel test? The more conscious we are of agenda setting, the more we can ask questions and make advances in society. It’s important that we understand just how much the media and our culture can cloud views on everyday occurrences, especially gender. Ask yourself why are things the way they are and if we can change them.