xx Introduction emphasize that “real men” must always be ready for sex and that girls, to attract men, must not be too sexually active (Ward &Aubrey, n.d.). Much data shows that, aside from stereotypical portrayals, a big problem is that females are not adequately featured in popular culture. “The fact is—women are seriously under-represented across nearly all sectors of society around the globe, not just on-screen, but for the most part we’re simply not aware of the extent. And media images exert a powerful influence in creating and perpetuating our uncon- scious biases,” said Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (McKinney, 2015). For example, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (2020) found that female leads in family films fluctuated slightly between 2007 and 2019 before reaching 48% in 2019. White women make of two- thirds of these. In terms of overall speaking time on film, female characters con- stituted 39.2% and took up 46.2% of screen time. Women over the age of 40 are underrepresented, appearing 39.8% of all females in film. Male supporting char- acters outnumber female supporting characters, two to one. Female characters are six times more likely to be wearing revealing clothing than are male characters. Only 2% of family films featured an LGBTQ main character, and they are more likely than heterosexual characters to be wearing revealing clothing and to be depicted as sexually promiscuous. Further, heterosexual characters are shown as more intelligent and hardworking and while LGBTQ characters are more likely to die in family films. HOW TO ANALYZE WOMEN IN POPULAR CULTURE One way to measure how well films do regarding gender is the Bechdel Test. Created in 1985 by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the test asks only three questions: (1) Are there at least two women in the film who have names? (2) Do those women talk to each other? (3) Do they talk to each other about something other than a man? Bechdel has said that the credit for the test should go to her friend, Liz Wal- lace, who generated the idea when Bechdel was looking for material for her comic, Dykes to Watch Out For (Garber, 2015). It is an imperfect measure, as a film could “pass” by having an inconsequential or fleeting conversation between women or pass but still promote gender stereotypes. For instance, Gravity features a female astronaut played by Sandra Bullock but does not pass due to the lack of other female characters while Legally Blonde does because Elle Woods and her friends discuss dogs (Waletzko, 2017). Yet, it does provide a litmus for analyzing film and gender. And, because it is such a low standard, it is even more shocking how few films pass. Author Alaya Johnson of the blog, The Angry Black Woman, wrote a post constructing a Bechdel Test for people of color in popular fiction. The test asked the same questions, but regarding people of color: (1) Does the work have at least two people of color in it? (2) Who talk to each other? (3) About something other than a white person? Another test is the DuVernay Test, named after film- maker Ava DuVernay. Created by film critic Manohla Dargis, it is intended to determine whether a film shows “African-American and other minorities having fully realized lives instead of being the scenery for white stories” (Racic, 2018).
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