We need more women in cinema.
Not women as love interests.
Not women as overly-sexualised heroines.
Not women as the token ‘ass-kicker’ sidekick.
Women in the same roles as men without the need to be sexualised to succeed.
It is fine for women to flaunt their sexuality or be confident with themselves in movies, just as it is fine for them to do the same in daily life.
Women should be allowed to wear as much or as little as they like without it reflecting their sexual experience, ‘purity’ (as if such a concept existed) or ‘goodness’.
But at the same time, there is a worrying absence of strong female leads that don’t need men to thrive.
If a woman is the central character, nine times out of ten (warning: this is not a real statistic but it’s pretty damn obvious so leave it be) they are chasing or being chased by a male character.
Even female superheroes in film often aren’t taken seriously.
Before you get on your high horse with your cupid badge, I’m not saying it’s not okay for their to be films about love, or with love playing a prominent role. So don’t start. What I’m saying is that they have a monopoly on the female leads.
I’m all for a good RomCom now and then. It’s great for a girl’s night or to lift your spirits with some easy watching. I’m not denying that.
But what about when I want to see girls being the badasses they are? What about when I want to see girls in the same role as guys, without the need to sexualise them, dumb them down or give them a prominent love interest?
For young girls watching movies, this is the only image of women that they are being offered. What does that teach them? It teaches them to be the good, quiet girl in search of a man to validate her existence.
I want girls to grow up knowing that whether they have a significant man or woman in their life is not as important as it is often shown to be — it does not validate nor justify them and it especially does not define them.
Often, it comes from literature as well.
Look at the franchises that have been prominent for girls in the last few years — films like the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games.
Don’t even get me started on Twilight. I have a few bones to pick with the author of that. Not least of which is why the only female characters she offers are either completely dependent on men, ditzy or rude. How about some affirming roles for women? No? Okay.
But the Hunger Games is actually a brilliant trilogy. Not only does it have a lot of strong anti-consumerism messages, a warning against strong centralised government in the form of a dystopian future, and a strong female character, but it FEATURES love rather than focusing on it. (SPOILERS) She chooses her partner based on who she needs to survive. She chose for herself and was strong throughout.
But when made into films, the Hunger Games became very wholeheartedly about the romance and the ‘love triangle’ in it. Or at least the advertising did.
Where are the books and the films that help girls grow in understanding of themselves and the world around them?
Where are the books and the films that focus on females being strong for themselves, finding themselves and working for themselves rather than for men?
I’m not asking for a token female character to feature in all movies. I’m not saying that at all.
I’m asking for an equal playing field for women.
In literature and film, a male is a female’s purpose. In life, that’s not the case.
In literature and film, men have the ability to play the whole spectrum of roles. Women are not given the same privilege.
Sure, have RomComs. Have females in search of love, or in love. Have bitchy girls and mean girls and ditzy girls and dependent girls.
But have other options as well. Don’t have that as the only means of referral for girls growing up to see what they should be like and who they should be looking for.
In other news, I have high hopes for an upcoming film to fit this bill:
It’s an action movie with a female lead with no need for the love interest of a man to keep her going. And it looks awesome.