Gender and Film
By Luke Huffman
Imagine you had to put together a time capsule that represented today’s world.
What movies would you chose?
What do your choices say about your view of sex and gender?
Gender in the Movies
Film has the power to communicate gender roles
It does through blatant messaging on the roles women and men play in society and how we communicate in relationships
There can also be subtle messaging on gender roles, that is repeatedly is more likely to sink in on some level and affect us, especially on children
Gender and film behind the screen
Of top 100 grossing films of 2019, women represented:
10.7% of directors
19.4% of writers
24.3% of producers
70% of editors
Top 250 grossing film, 6% of composers were women
Only one woman has won the Academy Award for best director (Kathryn Bigelow) and only five have ever been nominated (Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Bigelow, and Greta Gerwig)
43 of the top 100 grossing films had females as the lead or co-lead
An actor with a reputation for being difficult dresses in drag in order to get work on a soap opera. When he lands the part, he has to keep up the act and struggles with his feelings for his female co-star
When Michael eventually reveals himself, the viewers had become so attached to Dorothy, his female persona, that they were going to miss her, not Michael
The film also fulfilled fantasy of walking in the other sex’s shoes – seeing how they were treated and greeted, and to know someone without accompany romantic feelings at first
The film somewhat illustrates the theme of gender-bending, with how Michael comes to grips with his masculinity and femininity
Book’s use of gender bending is not limited to drag but a way of thinking about gender
Thelma & Louise
Groundbreaking gender-bending film about two friends that embark on road trip that ends in unforeseen circumstances
Audiences felt complex emotions with many aspects of the movie, with some feeling odd applauding revenge
The female leads being shown in dominant images and radical behaviors, while male characters were portrayed in an atypical fashion
Some thought it was a way of male bashing, thinking women were winning a war against male oppression and retaliating against unacceptable male behavior
Thelma and Louise contd.
This is a gender-bent message taken to the extreme
Scholars felt that the film commented on relationships in the 90s, with depicting women’s desperation, and women who counter powerlessness with extreme actions but are still powerless in a patriarchal system
Gender Bending or Society Shifting?
In today’s cinema, film roles for men, women, and non-binary people of varying identities, orientations, ages, ethnicities, and abilities have never been more diverse with more diverse roles to come
There are still a lot of work to be done for proper representation in gender, as well as other demographics
What, if any, film roles have changed your perception of gender? Was this a portrayal of gender bending or just a societal shift? Are these gender bent roles or reflections of our expanding view of what’s acceptable behavior for men and women?
Non-Binary/Genderfluid on Film
Well-Known people in the industry that identify as non-binary, genderfluid, or other gender identities: Cara Delevingne, Indya Moore, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Lachlan Watson, Jill Soloway, Amandla Stenberg, Ezra Miller
Television in recent years has done a better job of representing those who identify outside of male and female gender binary, while film has lacked for any characters that identify non-binary
Number characters are rising but are often side characters, given little screen time, or are in throw away scenes compared to male and female characters
Trans, Non-binary, or genderfluid characters are also often protrayed by binary gendered actors i.e. The Danish Girl
The way film has depicted and represented genders, especially women and non-binary characters, has improved but still lacks behind in true proper representation
As with people working behind the camera, there has also been a rise but is still significantly small compared to male counterparts
The film industry has never been more diverse but there are still a significant amount of work to be done in order to reach proper representation
GenderSpeak: Communicating in a Gendered World by Diana K. Ivy