On the small screen, audiences are treated to powerful women leading the casts of some of the world's most-watched and critically-acclaimed programs. On shows like Scandal, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Wife, female protagonists are at the helm of massive political campaigns, winning elections, and killing it in the courtroom. On the big screen, however, female roles still have a ways to go.
This poor representation in movies is a long lamented complaint, and now there's numbers to back it up. The USC Annenberg School of Communications and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media released new statistics that supported these complaints. Of nearly 6,000 film characters, just 31 percent of them were female. But this number can't be too surprising, as just 10 percent of those studied had a cast with 45 to 54.9 percent of speaking roles played by women. And when they do make appearances in movies, they're oftentimes not portrayed in an empowering manner. Female characters are over two times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing, showing more skin, or even partially naked. Another startling finding: There's pretty much no difference between the sexualization of women on film ranging from ages 13 to 39. So that means that a male character could leer at a high schooler the same way he would at a fully-grown woman. Yuck. To boot, women make up just 23 percent of the "workforce" in U.S. films, while in the off-camera world, they make up 46.1 percent. That means that the portrayal of working women in the movies is not just offensive, but inaccurate too.
Numbers like these really bring to light how important ground-breaking female parts are in the movie industry today. As Cate Blanchett said during her Oscar acceptance speech earlier this year, "Films with women at the center are not niche experiences. Audiences want to see them. And in fact, they earn money." Preach!
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