We recently ran a blog series centered around the gender equality PSA, Little Leading Ladies, which encourages young girls to take on leadership roles within, as well as, outside the film industry. But what about on-screen? Oscar winner, Geena Davis, has advocated for gender equality in the film industry through her Institute on Gender in Media for years. She has since come up with a simple two-step plan to truly represent women as 50% of the population.
The basics are that for every one female-speaking character in family-rated films (G, PG and PG-13), there are roughly three male characters; that crowd and group scenes in these films — live-action and animated — contain only 17 percent female characters; and that the ratio of male-female characters has been exactly the same since 1946. Throw in the hypersexualization of many of the female characters that are there, even in G-rated movies, and their lack of occupations and aspirations and you get the picture.
Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful, unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know. (Read the full article HERE.)
Women make up 50% of the world’s population, shouldn’t the worlds we create in our films reflect this? According to Davis, if we follow these two quick and easy steps, “In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like.” That sounds like something I’d like to have a hand in.