Hey everyone! Good news! The Women’s Media Center, founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, has released a report summarizing research done by various academic institutions about the state of women both in front of and behind the camera. It’ll hopefully raise awareness about that subject and maybe even lead to some positive change at some point in the future.
The bad news: Everything that’s actually in the report. There’s no “from bad to worse” here, because it’s all terrible. So let’s just say “from awful to also awful” and get this party started.
First, in the realm of movies (my soul, my life, my heart): As previously reported by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, only nine percent of the directors of 2012’s 250 top-grossing films were women. That’s an increase of four percent from the previous year, but when you look all the way back to 1998 there’s been no significant growth. Also: It’s only nine percent. Surprising no one, things are worse if you’re a woman who’s not white: The 500 top-grossing films of the past five years have had 565 directors, 33 of whom were black, two of whom were black women.
Women get slightly less screwed over if you expand from “directors” to “directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors”—we ladies filled a whopping eighteen percent of those job positions among the top 250 films of 2013. Lest we feel that getting into the double digits has broken the celluloid ceiling once and for all—I, for one, was ready to hang up my “feminism” title and go back into the kitchen to make sandwiches for men—that’s slightly lower than in 2012 and 1998.
As for ladies in front of the camera, while in 2012 females age 12 and up comprised 51 percent of the moviegoing audience, in 2011 only 33 percent of characters in the top 100 films were female, a five percent increase since 2002. “Of the women who who did get speaking roles in movies,” writes TIME (emphasis mine), “34.6% were black, 33.9% were Hispanic, and 28.8% were white. And of all the speaking characters, Latina women were most likely to be depicted semi-nude.”
But “while female characters are on the rise,” notes the study, “female protagonists have declined. In 2002, female characters accounted for 16 percent of protagonists. In 2011, females comprised only 11 percent.” Well that’s just because movies with female leads are always complete financial failures. Duh.
Our TV enthusiast readers will simply love to read that, while women laid claim to 43% of television speaking roles, “those women tended to be much younger than their male acting counterparts,” writes The Hollywood Reporter. And, while recent years have seen more white women directing episodes of prime-time TV, the amount of women of color in that same role has declined. So cancel your ticker-tape parade, the suckitude has not decreased.
And the institutional sexism doesn’t just affect film and TV. We also have sports journalism (of the 183 “Heavy Hundred” sports talk radio hosts listed by Talkers magazine, only two were women), regular journalism (only 19% of news articles quoted women in January and February of 2013), and film criticism (a two-month period in 2013 saw men write 82% of all film reviews), just to name a few.
The entire report is here, if you want to read it and be mad.
Can everyone just acknowledge that women get shafted by institutional sexism when it comes to media (and in general, but I’m speaking now within the context of the study), so we can start figuring out way to fix the problem without people claiming the problem isn’t there? Or, alternatively, that the problem is there, but we shouldn’t do anything about it because “Quotas! You want quotas!” and “Whaddayagonna do? That’s just the way it is, you reverse sexists!” That’s my favorite, if by favorite you mean “argument I want to put in a giant hamster ball full of angry wasps.”)
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