The passage of women in the cinema
On International Women’s Day we delve into the role they have in the film industry
Today March 8 we want to talk about women in the cinema. Throughout history, the roles of women in society have been changing, perhaps at slower steps than they should, but little by little we are making our voices heard. There is still a long way to go, including in the cinematographic field.
Before the cinema there was the theater, and during the 8th-6th centuries BC in GFormerly women could not participate in any activity in the public sphere. This included acting, so the men did the female parts. Taking a very big leap we arrived at the 21st century, and what do we have? According to the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television (CSWT&F) in 2022, in US films, only 33% of the protagonists were women.
Now, let’s talk a little about these roles that actresses have had to play throughout history.
The roles they play
I want to continue with another CSWT&F statistic that tells us that in 2022 only 11% of movies have more female than male characters. Little by little, this percentage is rising, but let’s think a little about the characters they have played.
In The Script we have already told you about stereotypes of women in movies. We have been labeled not only by gender, but also by race, social class, and body type. For example: Latinas have to show a unique body and be hot, fat women have the role of funny, and Asian women tend to be hypersexualized.
Let’s take a specific example: in 1933 it premiered kingkong, where actress Ann Darrow played faywray, the protagonist, who ends up being the damsel in distress who must be saved by King Kong. We don’t have to think much. Another example is the princesses of Disney, who, although they have positive things, also told us that we needed to be saved.
In all this there is a ray of light that for many is a forced inclusion, since we are having powerful female characters. From heroines, lawyers or housewives who show that women can do anything. And this continues to be the subject of complaints (mostly male), why is there a female character in the lead…
Only in 2020 was it announced that the character of the African-American actress lashana lynch it would be the replacement of agent 007 in the next deliveries of the tapes. Lashana received hate for this reason, with comments on networks asking why today they want to turn everyone into women. Well, the answer is simple: we want more than 33% representation in the film industry.
So yes, we are excited that cis and trans women, of all races and sizes, fill the screen with characters far from the stereotypes.
The Bechdel test
Within all this inclusion in the cinema, there are times when the female characters are only there in the background. There is the Bechdel test, created by the cartoonist and activist Alison Bechdelknown for creating themed strips LGBTQ+. In 1983 he included the strip “The Rulein his comic Dykes To Watch Out For. In it, the two women in the strip talked about watching movies, and one said that she only watched tapes with at least two women talking to each other about anything other than a man.
Currently, rule number one has been added that these two characters must have their own name. You can apply this rule to your favorite movies and see if they pass the test; this just to raise awareness that stories don’t have to revolve around men.
Not only representation on screen has women lagging behind, because if we turn to see the biggest awards in the film industry (the Oscars) we find that only seven women have been nominated for the best director award, and so alone Kathryn Bigelow, Chloe Zhao and jane campion they have become winners.
After 95 years of history, that will not change in this next edition, since this year the nominees for the category are all men. Actress Natalie Portman protested this in 2020, wearing a cape with the names of all the female directors ignored that year.
We know that this year there are no women nominated for best director, that is why here I share some names of great directors. Starting with two that are within the Oscar nominations, but in other categories:
Sarah Polley, with its eponymous adaptation of Miriam Toews’ book, They speak, which is in competition for the statuette for best film and best adapted screenplay. we also have Domee Shidirector and creator of Grid, the first woman to direct a feature film alone in pixar.
If we talk about film festivals, this year three Mexican directors were winners in the Berlinale (The Berlin International Film Festival). Tatiana Huezo (Night of Fire), with his documentary film the echowas awarded in the categories of Best Documentary and Best Direction in the meetings section. For his part, Sofia Auza presented his first feature film, adolfo, which won in the category of Best Film Generation 14 Plus. And to close, we have Lila Aviles, that together with his work, Totem, received the Ecumenical Award.
We’d love to put here all the female directors, writers, production designers, etc., who have been underappreciated and ignored by the men in charge; the list would be terribly long.
The silence of the patriarchal pact
If we talk about women in the cinema, it is impossible not to talk about the silence behind the abuses in the industry. Harassment and sexual abuse, as well as psychological violence and demeaning attitudes, is what women have experienced to achieve that 33% representation in Hollywood.
In 2017 it began to be heard about #MeToo in Hollywood, where thousands of women began to denounce the abuse they had suffered by different powerful men in the industry. Today, the number of women who have raised their voices has increased; They continue to be added to the list to denounce, and not only in Hollywood.
To close, I can only say that I would have loved to talk only about the wonderful women who are part of this great industry, but it must be made clear that continues a fight to make visible both cis women and trans women. So I invite you to consume films made by women; because, without a doubt, we still have many stories to tell.