Leading female roles are often stereotyped and sexualized while rarely portraying characters whom hold positions of power and importance in film. The percentage of female speaking characters in top-grossing movies has not considerably changed in about half a century despite the recent achievements by feminist movements, as reported by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Along with being treated unfairly, women are also paid unfairly supposedly due to the differences in the kind and amount of human capital they acquire (Wharton 2004). Citizens today are gradually becoming more aware of this concern, yet not much has been done to change these recurring sexist problems that include objectifying women, decreasing their value as workers, and paying them unfairly. Since Adam and Eve, men have treated women as incompetent and uneducated human beings. Today women are usually expressed as sex symbols and are often casted as half-witted, ditsy characters that make unintelligent remarks to entertain an audience.
Exposure to sexualized content and objectifying women can result in body shaming, appearance anxiety, and unrealistic ideals of how a female should look like (Yasmine 2015). Producers and directors would rather hire the actress with bigger breasts and the best complexion compared to the other individual who doesn’t generally care about her appearance as much, even if they had the same skills. Women are consistently asked to lose weight or dye their hair in order to be cast for certain roles but all that does to society is generate an unrealistic ideals of what females should look and act like. Men are rarely asked to change their appearance because their roles are assigned solely based on talent, which is how it should be for all sexes according to the feminist perspective.
In movies involving nudity women are twice as likely as men to be shown partially or fully nude, or wearing sexually revealing clothing (Handy and Rowlands 2014). Youth and beauty are undoubtedly two important components of female portrayals in movies but what type of competence is perceived when taking appearance into account? Being taken seriously as a woman is such a necessity, especially in the workplace, otherwise there would be a totally biased work environment that only benefits the group in power. Granted there are some films out there that appoint strong female leads like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games but “out of a total of 5,799 speaking or named characters on screen, 30. 9 percent were females and 69.
1 percent were males (Smith)”. The percent of leading female roles is even lower equaling 23. 3 percent and the amount of those actresses that are casted as positions of power is virtually non-existent (Smith). The same statistics correlate with female directors as well. Findings reveal that females in film have a higher risk of career failure than their male colleagues when affiliated in cohesive networks (Lutter)”.
A recent study released by Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University showed that only 7 percent of directors on the 250 top grossing films were women, a two percent drop over the last 17 years (Lauzen 2014). Only four women have ever been nominated for Best Directing and Kathryn Bigelow was the first, and to date the only female director to win the Academy Award for Best Directing (Lauzen). All women are categorized the same way because they lack awards and recognized achievements due to the maternal responsibility inflicted on them; as a result, men believe that women should be paid less. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity in 2010, for every dollar earned by a man, a woman made 77 cents (Leon-Guerrero 2014).
During the 2015 Oscars Patricia Arquette, who won for best supporting actress, advocated equal rights for women by stating in her speech “It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America! This moment was a huge step for females since the issue was addressed during a nationally broadcasted program that millions of people witnessed. In the U. S. women have less continuous work experience due to childbirth and motherly responsibilities but that shouldn’t result in pay inequality (Leon-Guerrero). A higher value is already placed on men than on woman so their work goes underappreciated and pushed to the side. Some females are okay with being at home mothers and enjoy the satisfaction of supplying their family with love.
However, we have entered a generation in which men and women need to be treated as equals by receiving fair evaluations based entirely on the work ethic and efficiency of each individual employee. When the Declaration of Independence was being written, women were not acknowledged as equal members of society, therefore it was not accepted that they should receive their full rights. It’s not 1776 anymore and women deserve to be treated exactly the same as men and that goes for anyone of color or sexual orientation. We are all citizens of the United States and need to come together in order to improve our country and thrive as human beings.
Handy, Jocelyn, and Lorraine, Rowlands.
“Gendered Inequality Regimes And Female Labour Market Disadvantage Within The Film Industry. ” Women’s Studies Journal 28. 2 (2014): 24-38. Academic Search Premier. Web. Lutter, Mark.
“Do Women Suffer From Network Closure? The Moderating Effect Of Social Capital On Gender Inequality In A Project-Based Labor Market, 1929 To 2010. ” American Sociological Review 80. 2 (2015): 329- 358. Academic Search Premier. Web. Lauzen, Dr.
Martha M. “The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2014. ” Center for the Study of Women in Television ; Film. (2014). Web. Leon-Guerrero, Anna.
“Gender”. Social Problems: Community, Policy, and Social Action. (2014). SAGE Publications. Print. Smith, Dr.
Stacy L. “Gender Bias Without Borders. ” An Investigation of Female Characters in Popular Films Across 11 Countries (2014): Web. Motion Picture Association of America. “Theatrical Market Statistics”.
(2012). Web. Yasmine, Rola. “Postponing Sexual Debut Among University Youth: How Do Men And Women Differ In Their Perceptions, Values And Non-Penetrative Sexual Practices?. ” Culture, Health ; Sexuality 17. 5 (2015): 555-575.
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