Where are the Women?

I haven’t been to the cinema since I saw Rundskop. This is due to a number of things: I’ve been a lot busier in the last two weeks, the films I wanted to see weren’t showing at convenient times/places, there weren’t many Bechdel-passing films showing.

Since my last blog we had the BAFTAs and the Oscars. We all know what a turgid misogyny-fest the Oscars was at the hands of exemplary privileged white male, Seth Macfarlane. Excellent human Lindy West wrote about this & captured the way I felt about it pretty well.

Prior to the awards I read this piece by Soraya Chemaly, discussing the absence of women in the nominee lists. And before this, as I was watching the BAFTAs, I became very aware of the terrible ratio of women to men collecting awards (in the non-gender specific categories). I actually made a spreadsheet. I counted up all the people collecting awards and I counted 34 men collecting awards to 8 women.

I don’t think this is BAFTA’s fault. Clearly fewer women work in film in the top jobs behind the camera. Why is this? And how can it be changed?

As with almost every industry in the world, it’s harder to be a woman in film making. I’ve talked a bit about this before, but I think women need to be exceptional to do well in male-dominated environments whereas many men can succeed by simply being adequate. Another issue is visibility – women are not as inspired to get into directing/writing/editing/cinematography/sound/FX when they can’t see other women doing it and doing well. I think one of the reasons there are so many aspiring female actors is because society values actresses. Acting is one of very few jobs where women are given plaudits as much as men, and are very visible doing it. Girls see this and can relate, and aspire to the same.

It’s kind of a catch-22 as more visibly successful women are needed to inspire more women to go into these areas of work who will in turn inspire other women. This is why I generally don’t have a problem with women-specific awards/festivals etc.

I’m hoping to see some films soon but there are not many Bechdel-passers coming up & there are practically none which feature primarily a story about a woman which is what I really want to see right now.

update: just read this on this year’s Oscars sausagefest & the movies nommed. Thought it was good & relevant to this post.


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