I’m tired of my screen choices being to watch a rollercoaster ride about men, or an angsty torment about a woman struggling because she is a woman. I want to see some fabulously exciting screen stories about women who are simply people.
Women do more, are more, than suffering. We do more than have babies/yearn to have babies/fail to have babies. We are more than victims to be raped or battered or fought over. We do more than worry about finding a spouse or making the wedding perfect. We do more than fret about how to be better women, or how to defy society’s expectations. We are most certainly more than characters who wilt under omnipresent sexual threat.
Women can be heroes; we can rescue others. And by others I mean people, strangers, not just those whom we have societal permission to protect: children, little sisters, frail mothers. Women are perfectly capable of saving the world for no other reason than that we can. We don’t have to struggle with inner demons or Secrets from the Past. We don’t have to hide our superpowers because to be seen as helpless is to be seen as normal. We can do more than perform our gender so perfectly that no one suspects our competence. We are more, we do more than rant and rage at unequal treatment.
Women are people, real human beings—with and without friends, with and without family, with and without personal problems. I want to see film and tv reflect that.
I want to see women save the world—from the asteroid, the virus, the aliens, the terrorists. I want to see women winning—the medal, the office, the job. I want to see women creating, or destroying, or being fools, but as ourselves, as people, human beings. I want to see women who are gods and superheroes, criminal geniuses or musical geniuses, mountain climbers and clowns.
I want to see women burning bright. And I want to see a lot of us: fifty-one percent. Fifty-one percent of the janitors and soldiers, dentists and bricklayers, parents and accountants. Fifty-one percent of the politicians and CEOs, teachers and pupils. Fifty-one percent of protagonists and antagonists, ensemble players and extras. Women make up more than half the population. But our stories are not being told on screen. And when they are, they do not win big awards such as Best Picture or Outstanding Drama.
Tomorrow I’ll post the charts and numbers. Spoiler: it’s worse than you think.
9 thoughts on “Women characters in film and tv should do more than struggle”
As always, you’ve said that better than anyone. Would you mind if I quote you? This post is the exact reason why I began creating Vignette.
On Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 2:25 AM, Nicola Griffith wrote:
> Nicola Griffith posted: “I’m tired of my screen choices being to watch a > rollercoaster ride about men, or an angsty film or show about a woman > struggling because she is a woman. I want to see some fabulously exciting > screen stories about women who are simply people. Women do m” >
Feel free to quote!
Have you read The Man Who Bridged the Mist, by Kij Johnson? It’s a lovely, quiet story about work and how we relate to it. The protagonist is male because the author wanted to understand something about her father, and the second major character is female because she has to be. Beyond that, though, it gets interesting.
When she was writing her first draft, the author alternated gender for every one of the many characters she introduced beyond those two primaries, with a few necessary exceptions. Women come up as often as men among the stonemasons and ironworkers, and men come up as often as women among the innkeepers. Pick any sufficiently large category of people, and it’s within a margin of fifty percent.
It’s a remarkably simple way to keep yourself honest as a writer. I try to do something similar whenever the setting allows.
I haven’t read it, no. Yes, I think for some gender-swapping can lead to interesting insights.
The gender-swapping idea sounds really interesting to me.
Best line I’ve read in … forever? “We can do more than perform our gender so perfectly that no one suspects our competence.”
I agree! I would love to see widely available films and/or TV shows about the many amazing women who have populated the history of humankind. Mary Kingsley, Cornelia Sorabji, Katherine Dunham, Ana Nzinga Mbande, and so many more… women whose stories are interesting stories of human beings who just happen to be women. And I want to see those stories delivered in such a way that they haven’t been torturously bent around a romance or the oppression of that person as a woman. The truth of their lives is fascinating, dramatic, and engaging enough just as it comes.
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