The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at SDSU released a study about how women fared on-screen last year. Spoiler alert: nothing has changed. Their content analysis included over 2,300 characters in top grossing films and compared these results to statistics in 2011 and 2002.
- 15% of protagonists were female
- Females comprised 29% of major characters
- 30% of all speaking characters are female
- Females are generally younger (20s-30s) than males (30s-40s)
- 73% of all female characters were Caucasian. 14% were African American, 5% Latina, and 2% Asian.
- Females were more likely to have an identifiable marital status, but less likely to have an identifiable occupational status.
- Male characters had an identifiable goal more often than female characters
- Males had more work related goals (75%) than life related (25%), whereas for females, the goals were more evenly split, leaning more towards life goals (48% vs. 52%).
- More men than women were portrayed as leaders.
This is the state of film today, compared to two years and a decade ago. Still no perceptible changes are being made. Studios are still churning out good ol’ run of the mill sexism.
And thank you to… those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences. They are not — audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.
I think it’s relevant. I think gender is relevant. I bring something to the table as a woman; I bring something to the table as a woman of color. So I feel like, if it’s the only thing you focus on, then it’s a danger, and if you never talk about it then it’s a danger.
Oh my God, yeah! It’s constant! It’s how you’re treated, it’s how you’re looked at, how you’re expected to look in a photoshoot, it’s how you’re expected to shut up and not have an opinion, it’s how you… If you’re a girl and you don’t fit the very specific vision of what a girl should be, which is always from a man’s perspective, then you’re a little bit at a loss.
It’s very hard being a woman in a man’s world, and I recognized it was a man’s world even when I was a kid. It’s an inequality and injustice that drove me crazy, and which I always spoke out against — and I’ve always been outspoken.
No generic girlfriend or wife, and no sexy bombshell. Enough of that already!
It’s really hard to get stories made that are about women — not just women being obsessed with men or supporting men. And it’s really hard to get men to be a part of films that are about women in a leading role. I’m really interested in how we can adjust that, considering that it’s all just based on demand.
More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look. What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It’s not very interesting to me, but I know it’s interesting to people reading an interview. Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90 percent of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result the interview of me reads like I’m interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood, blah blah blah. I want to shout, “Those were the only questions they asked!”
I know how people like to believe that, but it’s a very sexist way of thinking. Nobody ever asks that when men work together in an ensemble cast. I’ve been in the business 10 years and I’ve never had a negative situation with another actress — ever.
In December 2013, the “Thelma And Louise” actress proposed a two-step plan to fix Hollywood’s woman problem: put more women in leading roles, and make sure crowds of extras are at least half female. “And there you have it,” she wrote in an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter. “You have just quickly and easily boosted the female presence in your project without changing a line of dialogue.”
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