Breaking News! Female Protagonists Are Still Rare in Gaming and Movies

Illustration for article titled Breaking News! Female Protagonists Are Still Rare in Gaming and Movies

Despite Geena Davis's simple, two-step process (so easy, a misogynistic producer can use!), women remain woefully underrepresented both behind and within the scenes of the movie and gaming industries.


Just how few women — who, after all, make up a little more than half of all humans, everywhere — populate our games and movies as major characters? These handy statistics tell the whole dismal story:

Women make up 45% of the gaming community and 4% of the main characters of the 25 biggest games of the year.

"Yes, that's still a goal Minority! If more women played video games, there Would be more reason to-have female main characters!"

Men make up 35% of the cinema audience and 84% of the main characters of the 25 biggest movies of the year.

The glaring dearth of female characters in two really huge forms of popular entertainment should be discouraging, though perhaps there is a small ray of optimism: of 2013's top-25 blockbusters, three of the top ten films — Frozen, Gravity, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — feature female leads. If you count Oz The Great and Powerful as a lady-powered movie (which may be a dubious proposition), almost half of the top ten features female leads. Moreover, The Heat, a female-driven buddy cop comedy, cracked the top 15, hopefully dispelling any notion that the only way to really revive the buddy cop genre is to resurrect Riggs and Murtaugh.

A third (more or less) of the top ten and a single blockbuster comedy is by no means equal, but it is an improvement over the 2012 field, which featured only two top-ten, female driven movies (The Hunger Games and Brave). It's also light years better than the 2011 field, which featured no female-driven movies in the top ten, unless you count Breaking Dawn, which would be perhaps too optimistic. The progress may be slow, but the "bottlenecks" (boys' clubs that can't understand how to sell merchandise to girls) that Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow has noticed in the gaming and film industries are slowly being broken up by the egalitarian forces of the internet:

Those bottlenecks are being shattered by the Internet. Whatever failings the DRM-laden digital distribution channels have*, they hold the potential to redress this dismal situation.


Signs of progress are springing up everywhere, but the going for the equal (or even equal-ish) representation of women in media is still slow, especially considering how women represent a larger share of the market for games and movies.

h/t: Boing Boing



I would say that the real problem is not that there aren't any, or aren't enough female protagonists, but that when there are, the ones we see are always hyper-sexualized, and their entire plot revolves around their sexuality, fanservice, and/or being a love interest for one of the male protagonists.

How about female heroes who are average-looking, and whose plot does not revolve significantly around showing off their tits and ass, and using their feminine wiles to their advantage? Yes, they can be attractive, and they can have a sexual dimension to their character, but it doesn't have to be turned up to 11 all the time. How about making them normal people? Women in fiction are ALWAYS sexy (unless they're COMPLETELY ugly, in which case just as much attention is drawn to this and it's played for cheap jokes). They're never just average.

As a good example of what I'd consider a good female protagonist, I'd nominate Ivanova from Babylon 5 (admittedly, not a show that a lot of people watched). Yeah, she was attractive, she was badass, but her uniform was the same as everyone else's, and her sexuality did not dominate her character.