Lights, camera, gender equality!


Willow Barry

Hannah Olsen calls for more diverse representation of women in film

Civilizations spanning time and space have been saturated with stories. Tales to teach, persuade, and entertain. But what happens when the stories we are telling don’t reflect our societies? This is an issue with Hollywood. While most people’s lives aren’t filled with superheroes, brain-eating aliens, and talking squirrels, they are filled with women. Women have affected the lives of every one of us. They are our sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and friends. They are our teachers, doctors, dentists, and coaches. But how many of the films that we watch feature females from all walks of life?

The numbers aren’t very encouraging when it comes to current female representation in film. According to the “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” report,  only 29 percent of the top films in 2020 featured female main characters. This isn’t great considering 51 percent of our society is made of women. But even in movies with female leads, women might not have a lot of room to have their voices heard. For example, you would say the Disney Princess movies are about women, right? Well, according to a study by “The Pudding,” in movies such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Pocahontas,” and “Beauty and the Beast” men actually speak more than women. The split in “Beauty and the Beast” is 72 percent male dialogue, 28 percent female dialogue.  And this issue occurs in more than just Disney Princess movies. Movies of all genres struggle from a lack of the female voice. Some notable ones include the 6 percent of female dialogue in “Star Wars: A New Hope” and the 13 percent of female dialogue in “The Avengers.” 

Why do we even need more women in film? Because we all need role models. How many of you have ever looked up to a character in a movie? How would you feel if you rarely saw someone who looked like you? What a wonderful day when I can sit on my couch or one of those fun reclining chairs at the movies and see a girl like me saving the world or following her dreams. I want to see a girl like me with glasses, a little nerdy and a little artsy, rocking a bow and arrow and saving the world. I want to see a girl like you, quiet with great style going on a journey to find the cure to save her dying brother. I want to see a girl like you, and you, and you, walk across the stage and be president, or general, or queen.

Seeing women accomplish great things, even in movies is really important because of film’s impact on people’s lives. An example of this is the 105 percent increase in female participation in archery after the release of “The Hunger Games” and “Brave” discovered in a study by the Geena Davis Institute. If two movies can have that much impact on participation in a sport, imagine what the world would be like if many more movies showed women succeeding in all kinds of roles. Amazing women and girls on the screen allow women and girls in the real world to imagine what they can do.

For those of you who might say, “Oh, only girls want more women in film.”  Well, I don’t know if anybody else wants it, but goodness, we all need it. We all need to see women being strong in all different kinds of ways. Women and girls are so often portrayed in movies in a way that reduces them to objects. For example, female leads are four times more likely to appear nude than men are. Is this what media opinion of women has been reduced to? The remedy to this objectification is representation. Women and girls need to appear in more films as strong, as leaders, as main characters of their own stories. Women and girls need to appear in all kinds of roles so everyone can understand what’s possible.

So, how do we convince Hollywood to make more films with women? By playing their game. It is important to note that movies that are about women make more money. This fact was discovered in a study by the Creative Arts Agency that analyzed the most profitable movies between 2014 and 2017. Whether we like it or not, money is a major motivator for the movie-making industry. Keep this trend going, and maybe Hollywood will take notice. Purchase tickets to and stream women-filled films. Buy the t-shirts. When Hollywood realizes that female-filled films are making money, then wouldn’t they make more?  And that’s exactly what we’re looking for.