While I was travelling the past couple of weeks I’ve been keeping tabs on the wonderful women around the web. Here are a few of my favorites. (Better a little late than never.)
When I got home I found a copy of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines waiting in my mailbox. This is a documentary that was previewed at GeekGirlCon 2011 and features Seattle-based writer Jennifer Stuller. Last month the documentary’s website hosted an interview with Stuller, author of Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology.
We’ve seen the eponymous protagonist of Hanna, and Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow (who received nearly as much screen time in The Avengers as Iron Man and Captain America – arguably the two male leads of the film), Noomi Rapace as a proto-Ripley in Prometheus, and Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, among others. Though, for the most part it should be noted that generally these female characters are not the protagonist, but supporting players, and most conform to specific and restrictive standards of beauty, including white skinned, thin-bodied, and heterosexual.
We have to recognize where these representations “got it right” but also temper our celebration with informed critique so that we can be better.
I’m looking forward to re-watching the Wonder Woman documentary, which was screened in its completed form at GeekGirlCon 2012. The documentary uses examples ranging from Wonder Woman to Buffy to show the evolution of the superheroine. I remember one moment in particular when Captain Janeway appeared and the crowd at the screening erupted in cheers. Star Trek was one of the first television shows to brave new worlds for women and people of color. It’s nice to see the original Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols judging the current WeLoveFine Star Trek design contest.
The Grindstone reported on a new study about women in television and film.
It has been a strong year for women in television, but only in some aspects. According to the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film the annual study, women make up 26% of all creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography, which is up one point from the previous year and five points from the 1997-98 season. But 68% of all shows don’t even have a female writer on staff.
A segment of the Wonder Woman documentary highlights the work of Reel Grrls, “an award-winning non-profit media arts and leadership training program for girls ages 9 – 19″ that “envisions a world in which women and girls have leadership roles in creating media and are represented behind and in front of the camera.” Over at Oh No They Didn’t, Geena Davis also addressed the topic recently in a Q&A that coincided with her speaking to The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. (via TheMarySue.com)
The research shows that things have stayed pretty much exactly the same: The ratio of male to female characters has been the same since 1946! There’s something very comfortable or familiar to creators about a 3-, 4- or 5-to-1 ratio. I know as a kid there weren’t really any women TV characters I wanted to emulate; my best friend and I used to pretend to be the (male) characters on “The Rifleman!”
I’m sensing a theme to this Fangirls Around the Web… Every once in a while I might highlight a man speaking out for gender equality. How about one of the most successful men in the world, Richard Branson, blogging on Entrepeneur.com about Why We Need More Women in the Boardroom?
Fixing this injustice isn’t just good for your team: it’s good for business. Several studies have shown that gender equity in senior management and at the board level brings many tangible benefits. A report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute revealed that those firms dominated by men had recovered more slowly since the 2008 financial downturn than those with a more balanced male-female ratio.
And finally thanks to my mom for sending this article on the Goldie Blox Kickstarter aimed at encouraging girls to think like engineers. Interestingly enough, as an engineer, people have said it’s my ability to think differently than most engineers (and yes, most of my fellow professionals are male) that helps me succeed at transportation design.
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com. Her interview with X-Wing: Mercy Kill author Aaron Allston can be found in this month’s Star Wars Insider Issue 135.
In her spare time, Tricia puts the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.