The worst thing I’ve ever done to myself is take a Feminism in Film class. I wasn’t completely ignorant to the misogyny presented in film before that course, on account of having eyes and ears and common sense that can detect inequality. But I do wish I could watch a Disney movie without focusing on how just how many of them feature women who must be saved by big, strong men. Which I can’t because I wrote a 10 page term paper on that very topic, which is why I have two books bashing Disney for being a misogynistic company on my bookshelf. I haven’t opened those books since I turned in those papers, by the way. Let me hold on to some of my ignorance. Don’t take away Ariel from me. God, don’t do that.
Long before I ever knew Alison Bechdel was a cartoonist and author or even a real human being, I had heard of The Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test, first introduced to us via Bechdel’s long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, is described as “a litmus test for female presence in fictional media” and is comprised of three teeny, tiny, uncomplicated rules for a film to pass the test:
- It includes at least two women
- Who have at least one conversation
- About something other than a man or men
That’s it. Simple, right? Shouldn’t be that hard, right? Well, take a look at how the Top 250 movies, as rated by IMDB, perform on the test here. I was never shocked that the film industry is sexist, but I was shocked that so many of my favorite films don’t even feature two women who talk about something other than the opposite sex. I don’t know why I was so astounded. I should be used to not understanding things. I’m just a woman, after all. I can really only grasp the concept of tampons and rhyming poetry that talks about babies.
Luckily, I don’t have to defend women in the media. Which is great because when would I have the time to do all of these dishes and trim my rosebush (note: though I am a redhead, this is not a euphemism for anything)? I’ve got the impossibly intelligent and beautiful Geena Davis to do the work for me. With the help of SeeJane.org, Davis started the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004, a research-based institute that is trying to fix and heal the massive disconnect between equality within gender and entertainment. GDIGM aims to not only make it easier for women to work within the entertainment industry, but also foster the type of environment that doesn’t allow children to grow up on movies where women are portrayed as wearing a shell-bra for most of her life (I STILL LOVE YOU, ARIEL. I WILL NEVER LET YOU GO).
Their latest study, Gender Roles & Occupations: A Look at Character Attributes and Job-Related Aspirations in Film and Television, was recently released and offers up statistical information that is skewed in favor of men. At least I think so. I’m not so good with percentages, on account of having a Y chromosome.
Please take a look at the full study from GDIGM website here. It’s worth the read. Also, I’m starting a new religion that involves sacrificing a man in the name of Geena Davis every Football Sunday, just like men who misunderstand what feminism means, probably think we want.