Fate of Women in Film

As a feminist and a moviegoer, I sometimes find myself disappointed in the selection of films out there. While some of my favorite movies center around male characters, I also enjoy seeing strong & capable female characters. But does the film industry agree?

Anita Sarkeesian, creator of Feminist Frequency: Conversations with Pop Culture, explains in one of her videos about how men, as the vast majority of the power-holders in the film industry, are thus making films primarily about men.

I feel a connection with Anita’s ideas because she is a science-fiction movie fan like me, but also because she is a feminist who is working to speak to current generations. Anita does a great job of providing information to ordinary people like me without including overwhelming academic jargon. She proves that feminist spaces can be safe and interactive, while also being educational and geared toward steering media in the right direction.

One of the most important videos she shares is about the Bechdel Test, originating from the author Alison Bechdel. This test is a way for people to decipher whether or not a film has a gender bias.

Anita describes it here:

Essentially, for each movie you see, watch for two women speaking together in a meaningful way about something other than men. Unfortunately, very few mainstream or blockbuster movies include such conversations to pass this test, proving that women-centered movies are in the minority. Of course, male-centered movies are not necessary anti-female. But the test goes to show that more movies are centered on men, rather than being equally spread between genders (like film audiences usually are).

But of course, there are details and exceptions to everything. For example, a feminist movie can include conversations about men, but it should not only talk about men. Also, some films, like the short film I just watched- Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter or the Harry Potter series can have feminist themes or characters with very little or no interaction between female characters.

So the next time you go to the theatre or have a movie night, see if the films you watch hold up under the Bechdel Test and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was the theme and/or perspective male or female focused?
  • Did the movie have strong female characters (not stereotypes or minor characters) that you could identify with?
  • Would you recommend this movie to a woman or watch it again yourself?  

Also, consider helping others become aware of the situation in the film industry today by posting comments below or sharing links on other social media sites. Are you familiar with other resources like Feminist Frequency? Do you have reviews or examples of female-friendly literature, film, or TV? Feel free to comment, critique, share, and read posts like my recent review: http://sarahmariechase.blogspot.com/2013/10/feminist-critique-of-riddick-rule-dark.html

Remember, everyone has something valuable and important to share, even if we don’t always agree. Share with us at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center via this blog or come in to tell us what you know. Sharing your thoughts and insights are an important way to participate in what is happening around us and help change take place.

 – Sarah, MSWC Volunteer


About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on October 18, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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