Under-Representation of Females in Movies and Why You Shouldn’t Care

An article by Cynthia Littleton at Variety.com begins, “The latest study on women in front of the camera finds that female characters are still significantly under-represented on the big screen.”

They know what matters over at Variety.

Female characters accounted for only 15% of protagonists in the 100 highest-grossing domestic films of 2013, according to the study “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” by veteran researcher Martha Lauzen, exec director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State U.

No mention is made in the full report of the fact that most people in the movie industry, from producers to writers to directors, are men. Just as authors tend to write books they themselves can relate to, so do screenwriters, most of whom are male.

The study also found that “Overall, 17% of characters were leaders. Of those characters, a larger proportion of male characters (21%) than female characters (8%) were portrayed as leaders.”

This is in keeping with the way things are in real life. Males are more often in leadership positions in the real world because not only does that appeal to them more than it does to women (it’s in the male’s DNA, after all), but being followers appeals more to women than it does to men.

Interestingly, no complaints are made that male hair stylists and makeup artists are “under-represented” in the movie industry, or that males are under-represented at nail salons.

Know what characters had less “representation” in 2013’s top movies than women did? To name a mere fraction off the top of my head:

  • Samoans
  • Quadriplegics
  • Nazis
  • Repentant Nazis
  • Nazis who like to dance
  • Left-handed Nazis who like to dance exclusively to ABBA
  • Aborigines
  • Cannibals
  • The Irish-accented
  • Mulattoes
  • Albino blacks
  • Torso people

So, should we force Aborigines, for example, to get into the movie industry so that it “represents” people? Or should we accept that Aborigines are not as interested in movies as some other groups are?

Should we force more women to write scripts and to become actresses and directresses? Or should we accept that women are not as interested in writing movies as men are, and that, as a consequence, there are fewer movies with female characters?

Let’s stop meddling into such unimportant matters, shall we?