Gender · Performance & Arts

Women on Film & TV

So I saw a statistic tweeted from Women in Film & TV by Jill Nicholls and decided to share it (@s removed):

Wonder why you don’t hear much about women filmmakers? Only 18% of online reviewers are female… 

— Rose-Anna Bleasdale  May 28, 2013

and received this reply:

As one of that 18% I review films I think are worth reviewing, irrespective of filmmaker gender

— Carol Allen  May 28, 2013

My reply just wouldn’t fit into 140 characters, so I’ve written it here:

Well, good for you. That’s the ideal right?

The implication, (which you may not have intended at all, but I’m addressing it anyway!), is that it’s not a problem that only 18% of online film reviewers are women because reviewers are gender-blind in their review choices. Therefore, if women film-makers are poorly represented, it must be for some other reason, such as because there are fewer of them (this is very likely – I’m sure women experience barriers to this work, but that’s another topic) or their films are not as good or interesting.

But, wouldn’t you agree that women are more likely to make films centring on women, and that men are less likely to be interested in these stories? I think there’s a pretty powerful heteronormative (or cisnormative) pressure on men to stay away from them. It’s very rare to see a man reading a book marketed as ‘chick lit’ or even, say Jane Austen. This is rooted in misogyny, the denigration of the female, and behaviour associated with the feminine. It leads to the marginalisation of women in culture – ‘women’s culture’ is a special interest and the universal is masculine. Because the masculine is universal or positive, it’s fine for women to be interested in ‘male’ interests or stories, but not vice versa.

So, your lack of gender bias is commendable, but unlikely to be shared by the majority of your male colleagues.


One thought on “Women on Film & TV

  1. To be fair to my male colleagues, if a film is opening which is written or directed by a woman or is female centric in its story line, they will review it certainly without any conscious bias. The problem of lack of female reviewers is more one for women who would like to be film critics. When I joined the Critics’ Circle Film Section in the early nineties, I was one of three or four female members. The section now is probably not quite 50/50 but women are far more strongly represented and in positions of power in the circle eg on the film awards committee. The situation with regard to women being under represented in the industry is a different one. I agree women writers and directors are more likely to create films centring on women – apart from Kathryn Bigelow! I’m working on a feature film idea now with an older woman main character, would you believe? Will I get it made? That is the problem all film makers face, though it is arguably more difficult for women. It will change but too slowly I suspect.

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