Friday, 12 August 2011

Riot & Gender

I'm very interested in how the media has been portraying women in the context of the recent UK riots. I've seen some of the usual things, like hysteria centred on young women transgressing that doesn't hit young men in the same way, or hand-wringing "Why?"-type articles about "good girls gone bad".

However it would be great to get some submissions on specific stories people see in the press about women involved in the events (as perpetrators, victims, bystanders, officers of the law etc.) to start compiling some kind of mosaic of how gender interplays with them.

At the time of writing this, 97% of people charged with offences to do with the riots were male; so I'm sure there's a story about gender to be told here, but there's not enough information just yet to say what the story is, and I haven't seen any analysis along this line.

So comment below or use the submissions form to let us know of any telling/interesting media coverage of women and the riots.

The Bechdel Test: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Dir: David Yates)

Name of film
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Were there two or more named women in the film?
Yes

Did the women talk to each other?
Yes

... about something other than a man?
Yes

Was the director male or female?
Male

The Bechdel Test: The Remains of the Day (Dir: James Ivory)

Name of film
The Remains of the Day

Were there two or more named women in the film?
No

Did the women talk to each other?
No

... about something other than a man?
No

Was the director male or female?
Male

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Bechdel Test: Attack The Block (dir Joe Cornish)

Name of film
Attack the Block

Were there two or more named women in the film?
Yes

Did the women talk to each other?
No

... about something other than a man?
No

Was the director male or female?
Male

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bechdel Test - Bridesmaids

Went to see the fabulously funny Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids last night.

It definitely passed the Bechdel test and was a great portrayal of women's friendships and rivalries. This doesn't necessarily make this a feminist film, but was great to see women being funny and gross and insecure and sexual in a film, in their own right, as opposed to being accessories to the male plotline.

The actors were also quite diverse (not all thin, young and white) and were allowed space to have fully formed characters.

I loved it.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Bechdel Test: Taxi Driver (dir Martin Scorsese)

Name of film Taxi Driver

Were there two or more named women in the film? Yes

Did the women talk to each other? No

... about something other than a man? No

Was the director male or female? Male

Comments Viewed at Watershed

The Bechdel Test: Mega Pirhana (dir Eric Forsberg)

Name of film
Mega Piranha
Were there two or more named women in the film?
No
Did the women talk to each other?
No
... about something other than a man?
No
Was the director male or female?
Male

The Bechdel Test: Potiche (Dir: Fran├žois Ozon)

Name of film
Potiche

Were there two or more named women in the film?
Yes

Did the women talk to each other?
Yes

... about something other than a man?
Yes

Was the director male or female?
Male

Comments
Saw this film at the Watershed and love love loved it

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

No way to start the week, this

I subscribe to the podcast of the Radio 4 Program "Start the Week with Andrew Marr", which means I have a nice chronological record of each week's guests right there in my file management software. Back in February, I chanced to notice that the number of female participants on each program tended to be very stable, and tended to be very low. In other words, one woman per program. Seeing as the presenter is male, and they normally have 4 guests altogether, this meant that most weeks female voices made up at best 20% of the content of the hour-long show.

I wrote to complain, as you do, and got a bunch of excuses in response (women write fewer books; they're harder to contact; they really do try; sometimes they have more than one woman - that sort of thing). I more or less gave up on the show - I've frankly heard enough of what men have to say about the world by now - but continued to have it downloaded to my PC. Today, out of cussed curiosity, I decided to have another look at the last 6 months of shows - inclusive of the period in which I corresponded with the producer.

And the results were - drumroll...

  • Out of 21 programs broadcast between Jan 1st and today, 16 (76%) had only one woman on them
  • Five programs (24%) had 2 women; none had more than that, and 0% had a female majority on the guest list
  • The average number of female participants over a 6 month period is 1.2; the average number of male participants is 2.7
  • Including the presenter, on average female voices are heard on the program 25% of the time (less if they happen to not take up an exactly equal share time-wise)
In other words, not much has changed. Intriguingly, there was a run of 4 straight programs in April that had 2 women on them. Was this perchance connected to my protests, made about 5 weeks earlier? Who knows - but just in case it was, why not write to Radio 4 and point them to this blog post?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Oy! Tesco! your gender stereotyping is showing

So, apparently Tesco group their kids' magazines into Girls and Boys.

Boys like:
Pokemon
Dr Who
The Simpsons
Football

Girls like:
Pink
Princesses
Animals

The excellent blogger Forty Shades of Grey has written a letter to Tesco and you can too:

http://fortyshadesofgrey.blogspot.com/2011/06/dear-tesco.html

Wow! Women spotted on HIGNFY

After many, many episodes of Have I Got News For You with NO women at all, this week there were two!

The amazingly funny and talented Jo Brand and Joanna Scanlan.

So that made a nice change.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bechdel Test - Perfume

Name of film
Perfume; the story of a murderer

Were there two or more named women in the film?
No

Did the women talk to each other?
No

... about something other than a man?
No

Was the director male or female?
Male

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Where are the women in politics

Last night i was watching Dispatches, about the 1st year of the coalition.

Although women's rep in parliament DID go up in last year's election, from 19 to 22%, we are still lagging behind when it comes to women's voices being heard in government, and the cabinet only has FOUR women in it, one of whom (Baroness Warsi) is not elected. Theresa May, who splits her time between home secretary and equalities officer recently said in response to 'winnergate' that the left should really get a sense of humour.

So, on Dispatches it was hardly surprising that only 4 women were interviewed in the whole hour long show.

No BME people at all were represented.

In some ways this isn't entirely Dispatches fault. After all, if you want to interview cabinet ministers, women are very very absent.

This comes in the week that the representation of women in Bristol City Council went down.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Bechdel Test on four films

So, over a long break i have watched a fair few movies.

Here's the Bechdel Test round up.

Knocked Up
Pass! Two named women characters who talk about something other than the male character. However, they were talking about worrying about aging. This isn't a feminist film but it did have a funny, smart and interesting main female character.

Salt
FAIL! Only one named female character (Salt). However, she is bad-ass, strong, smart, and certainly not a damsel in distress.

Blood Diamond
FAIL! Two named women characters, but they don't talk to each other. However, Maggie is a strong, intelligent, principled woman who is fighting for a better world. So at least she was three dimensional.

Eagle vs Shark
FAIL! Two named female characters but they don't really talk to each other about anything much. However, Lily is a rocking character who is sweet, funny and far more sensible and caring than Jarrod.

So, apart from Knocked Up, which wasn't a particularly pro woman film (as Katherine Heigl famously said) it was a mixed bag of women's rep over Easter.

Also, saw HIGNFY. 4 men, 1 woman. Quelle surprise.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Dave. Wit. Sexism.

So, had Dave on on mute last night as I was reading the marvellous 'Possession' by AS Byatt, one of the few women to have won the Booker.

QI XL was on at 9pm. Panellists:
Hugh Dennis
Phil Jupitus
Andy Hamilton
Alan Davies
with host Stephen Fry.

In the ad breaks, none of the ads for up-coming Dave programmes featured women.

Next up was Mock The Week.
Man hosting, five male panellists and one woman.

Not only is it offensive that the 'comedy' channel is so marketed at men, to the point where it is called 'Dave', but actually seeing any women on the channel is more difficult than spotting a needle in a haystack.

HIGNFY, QI, Mock the Week, Red Dwarf, Alan Partridge, Men Behaving Badly, Top Gear - where are the women?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Have i got news for you

I caught the end of Have I got a bit more news for you on Saturday.

All men.

Surely, BBC, you can find a woman comedian who is funnier, more engaging and more interesting than Bob Ainsworth?

Bechdel Test round up

So, have been on a bit of a film mission these last few weeks!

Here's the update:

Kickass - no. although did have strong, witty, exciting and engaging female character

Scott Pilgrim vs the World - no. although did have more than one named female character

There will be blood - no. only 1 named female character and she was a child

Ghost World - yes! and yes again. what a great film.

Monday, 21 March 2011

An update from us

After a fantastic event at the Watershed on 6th March, we asked attendees to fill out a short form, committing to carrying out up to three actions to continue the momentum and energy created at the meeting.

We had 63 responses from an audience of 112 which was absolutely fantastic, and the day after the event, there were over 100 hits on the www.rowitm.org website. To break down the results, 17 people said they would look at the website - obviously far more did that than had promised to! Nine people said they would join BFN, and nine people said they would come to a meeting. This was borne out at the first meeting after 6th March on Feminism and Capitalism where the group had to find extra chairs in our venue to accomodate the people who wanted to be there. Ten people said they would do the Bechdel test, and we have already had some submissions on this blog. Twenty people said they would take more notice, or speak to people about what had been discussed at the meeting, and this is what we want - a real buzz about this issue which will force things to change.

Other commitments included: "challenging my boss when he makes remarks about my female colleagues", "try to find a way to bring more women onto local radio", "talking to groups of young women so that they know what they can do", "count the presenters on children's television", "write to Radio 4" and "continue to strive to be equal in my relationship and teach my two sons."

Please carry on with this activity, and carry on sending in your findings, whatever they may be about women in the media. We will be in touch in due course about a follow up meeting.

In solidarity
Bristol Feminist Network

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A few useful resources from Marina S

There are a few websites I visit regularly that could be good links as resources from the ROWITM site, for ideas on the type of research we could be doing if nothing else. Apologies if you're already aware of them and are not plannign to link to external sites from the ROWITM homepage, but I thought I'd rather share than not anyway:
One is the Sociological images blog - it's run by a pair of sociologists and has a pretty wide remit, but gender issues & representation are high n the list and they often address how women are portrayed in the press/media. It's an excellent resource to go to if one wants to get a large amount of evidence without trawling the web for days, because they have tags you can look at for various issues (e.g. gendered toys, representations of Asian women as passive/submissive etc). http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/
The Bechdel Test Movie List is what it sounds like - a bunch of movies and whether or not they pass the test, with rankings, comments & discussion.
Disney Princess Recovery is a blog chronicling the process of one woman (who's a social sciences academic, so there's good insight there) to wean her young daughter off Disney's narrow representations of women. She's more or less finished the journey now, but the back story is fascinating and she still updates the blog with other relevant articles.
Photoshop of Horrors doesn't focus exclusively on ROW, more on dreadful photoshop; but it's a good introduction to just how widely manipulated our visual environment is.
The #photoshopofhorrors tag on Jezebel is also a rich seam to mine, for example: http://jezebel.com/#!5762189/models-real-faces-before-the-photoshop-magic

Bechdel Test - memento

Name of film
Memento

Were there two or more named women in the film?
Yes

Did the women talk to each other?
No

... about something other than a man?
No

Was the director male or female?
Male - Christopher Nolan

Comments
Women arent protrayed very well in this movie at all! The wife of Leonard is portrayed as a helpless but beautiful lady who is raped and murdered. Leonard as a result loses his short term memory storing capabilities and proceeds on a rampage to find the second killer and have his revenge. The second female character Natalie is portrayed as being spiteful and uses his condition to get him to kill people she dislikes. Then at the end is turns out his wife didnt actually get killed but she couldnt cope with his condition. So all in all not great!

Bechdel Test - Animal Kingdom

Name of film
Animal Kingdom

Were there two or more named women in the film?
No

Did the women talk to each other?
No

... about something other than a man?
Yes

Was the director male or female?
Male

(ed note - assuming whoever sent this in meant the 3rd question as a no, otherwise it doesn't make sense?)

Bechdel Test - Archipelego

Name of film
Archipelago

Were there two or more named women in the film?
Yes

Did the women talk to each other?
Yes

... about something other than a man?
Yes

Was the director male or female?
female

Comments
Film touching on class issues and middle class discontent. Featuring three main female characters, one in a subordinate position as a chef to the family which featured a mother, troubled daughter and 'lost' (trying to find his way in the world) son, as well as a 'thoughtful' older male family friend character. Interesting portrayal of awkward everyday interactions, of adult sibling rivalry between brother and sister in the context of a family holiday as well as of a mother awaiting the arrival of her husband in vain.

Monday, 7 March 2011

My Bechdel test

A couple of weekends ago I watched 4 movies, 2 on Saturday, 2 on Sunday.

They were:

Napoleon Dynamite
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Social Network
Due Date

None of them passed.

Where are the women?

Sian, Bristol, UK

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Where are the women?

Where are the women?

The Watershed, Sunday 6th March, 2pm

Panel discussion with journalist and broadcaster Bidisha. Hear the evidenced, debate what is to be done

Brought to you by the Bristol Fawcett Society, Bristol Feminist Network, The Festival of Ideas and The Watershed

If you thought the battle for gender equality had been won, this event will make you think again. A quick glance at the current state of women’s representation in the media clearly illustrates how far we have to go before men and women have equal status in the media and the arts. Whether it’s the shocking statistic that 71% of the artists who performed at Glastonbury in 2010 were men, to the fact that only 7% of mainstream film directors are women, it isn’t hard to see that there is a troubling absence of women in our culture.

Over the past four years, the Bristol Fawcett Society and Bristol Feminist Network have investigated how women are represented in the media. They found that except as idealised, narrowly-defined beauties, women were disturbingly absent:

• there were no women comedians performing on the Bristol comedy circuit in November 2008.
• during November 2009 154 films were shown in Bristol – but only 14 were directed by women
• A detailed sampling of terrestrial TV found that at weekends a man would appear on the screen 64% of the time, women only 13% (23% of the time a man and a woman were present)
• Over one month the Guardian sports pages carried 1048 images – of which a mere 28 were of women (and they included shots of wags and a cartoon!)
• magazine covers provided a tsunami of by images of young, white, smiling women, celebrated for their youth, good looks and glossy hair. Older women? Women with power? No-where to be seen.

In May 2010, we went to the polls to vote for our new coalition government. Whilst the newspapers reported on Sarah Brown’s pedicure and Sam Cam’s pregnancy bump, women politicians were out of the spotlight. And when the votes were finally in, women were out. The Cabinet is now home to more graduates of Magdalen College than it is to women.

Why does this matter? Who cares if men are more visible in the public eye than women?

It matters because any sense of what is possible for women is shockingly limited when they are only visible as idealised, young and narrowly-defined beauties. Women’s confidence is undermined and young women are deprived of strong role models: a recent survey found that 68% of 16 year old girls wanted to be glamour models. It reinforces a message that the wider world of creativity, politics and power are for men and men alone.

If women lack political power, then women’s issues don’t get political attention. If women’s stories aren’t told and celebrated in film and literature, then women’s history and culture are not heard and male history and culture remain ‘the norm’, and set as the default.

Where are the women of intelligence and political clout, the sports women, the women who ‘do’ and create? We know that they are out there, but far too rarely represented in the media – and this matters.

Join writer, critic and commentator Bidisha, Dr Sue Tate, Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at UWE, Philippa Diedrichs from the Centre of Appearance Research and Sian Norris from BFN at the Watershed on the 6th March to discuss the absence of women in the media and what can be done to combat it.

When: Sunday 6th March, 2pm-4pm
Where: The Watershed
Cost: £4.60/£3.60

http://www.watershed.co.uk/exhibits/2807/