Bad news, sexism! Geena Davis is here to MURDER YOU WITH A BOW AND ARROW. The actress wrote a column for the Hollywood Reporter this week in which she outlined her two-step plan to fix gender inequality in Hollywood. And it's great.
Based on extensive data compiled by her Institute on Gender in Media, Davis explains that for every female character in family films (i.e. films informing the development of America's future adults), there are three male characters. Crowd scenes are only 17% female; one study found that men have come to perceive that 17% ratio as 50/50. Those disparities, Davis writes, have been the same since nineteen-forty-fucking-six. "Throw in the hypersexualization of many of the female characters that are there," she continues, "even in G-rated movies, and their lack of occupations and aspirations and you get the picture."
So what's the two-step plan? Well, it's extremely simple:
Step 1: Go through the projects you're already working on and change a bunch of the characters' first names to women's names. With one stroke you've created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they've had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it's not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, "A crowd gathers, which is half female." That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don't gather, I don't know.
And there you have it. You have just quickly and easily boosted the female presence in your project without changing a line of dialogue.
Changing what people see, Davis writes, has the potential to change who people vote for, hire, and aspire to be:
Yes, we can and will work to tell more women's stories, listen to more women's voices and write richer female characters and to fix the 5-to-1 ratio of men/women behind the camera. But consider this: In all of the sectors of society that still have a huge gender disparity, how long will it take to correct that? You can't snap your fingers and suddenly half of Congress is women. But there's one category where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed tomorrow: onscreen. In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like.
UGH SHE'S SUCH A FLAWLESS GENIUS. Also she spoke at my friend's nonprofit fundraising luncheon and apparently she was the nicest and coolest and most down-to-earth lady of all time and I have actual love feelings.
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