Laura Gómez / Lucía Franco
There’s no doubt that the world’s most famous movie industry is Hollywood. Whether it’s not the world’s largest film market -it is behind China and India’s film industry-, it is still the one that has the most international impact. The cinemas in the United States earned 11.400 millions of dollars in 2016, which is the highest annual income in history, as reported by the consultancy comScore. The whole of Hollywood is presented to us as a powerful business where everything is fancy and glamourous and the actors and actresses in it become famous all around the globe. Nonetheless, a big industry as the movies one in the United States doesn’t escape the gender inequalities. These go from the pay gap between actors and actresses -as we deeply exposed in an article-, going through the lack of women directors in the most recognized awards, to even the poor representation of women characters in the movies themselves. It is obvious, then, that women are still suffering from an invisibility when it comes to the movie industry.
One of the ways we have to determine the representation of women in movies is the Bechdel-Wallace test. It consists of four simple rules a motion picture has to respect so that the women in it are not treated simply as objects subordinated to men. It asks whether a film has at least two women that have a conversation about something other than men or their love life. Additionally, the women must have a name. If the movie has these conditions, it passes the test. Well, this may seem like an achievable rule that most films must pass, but the truth is that it’s not so evident. Let’s take the Oscars movies as an example. As we can read in this article from El Periódico, only two of the movies nominated for the best motion picture award in the 2017’s Academy Awards pass the Bechdel-Wallace test, these two being Hidden Figures and Arrival.
Similarly to that, the representation of women in Spanish movies is not very high either. Since the first ceremony of the Goya awards in 1987, only 13 of the movies that won the award for the best motion picture passed the Bechdel-Wallace test, says this article of El País. In addition to that, in the 31 editions of these awards,only three women have ever won the award for best director, Pilar Miró in 1997, Icíar Bollaín in 2004 and Isabel Coixet in 2006. Funnily enough, Coixet’s film also won the award for best motion picture, but it does not pass the Bechdel-Wallace test.
Audiovisual contents, such as movies or series, are strong and powerful ideological weapons that, without us realizing it, shape our minds. The audiovisual language gets straight to our emotions and, unconsciously, we become deeply attached to whatever we see, whatever we consume. For this reason, we should always be aware of what we are watching and never fail to judge every content with a critical look.
The image of women that movies portray it is usually stereotyped and sexist and we are all responsible to change that: the first step is to put on our purple glasses.