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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

what it means to be a woman who loves movies


One of my very earliest memories is of me and my friend Paul — I don’t even remember his last name — running around the schoolyard of PS 119 in the Bronx, the top button of our sweaters fastened around our necks to form awesome capes, playing superheroes. I’m not sure where we had gotten the idea of superheroes from. This would have been in 1974 or 1975, when I was in first or second grade (my family moved after that, and this memory is definitely from that school), so it was before 1978’s Superman reignited Hollywood’s love affair with comic books. There was Wonder Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man on TV, but they didn’t wear capes. Super Grover made his debut on Sesame Street in 1974, so maybe that was our inspiration. Or Saturday morning cartoons, but I don’t recall any specific examples of them.

Whatever it was, we knew that superheroes were cool, and capes signified them. And in our games, I was never a damsel in distress. I was not waiting around for Paul in his sweater cape to come and rescue me. I was a co-superhero with him in whatever adventures we were having. I still remember the surge of power I was filled with as we raced around saving the world.

Later, after Star Wars was a thing and when my brothers and I didn’t want to play with the kids across the street (they had all the toys, including a coveted Landspeeder; we had lots of figures, but that was it), we would make our own lightsaber hilts out of empty toilet paper rolls. I never daydreamed about being a Galactic Senator/Princess who needs to get rescued; I was a Jedi! I wielded the incredible power of the Force. (I might have wanted to be kissed by a Corellian smuggler, however.)

Even later, when I was aware that I was falling in love with movies with Raiders of the Lost Ark and the other Indiana Jones flicks — I would gobble up every bit of production information to be had, which was hard to come by in those pre-Net days — I never identified with the women in those movies. But it also never occurred to me that I should. I wanted to be Indiana Jones (though also, simultaneously, to be kissed by Indiana Jones, a type of pop-culture dichotomy that is probably worth another essay of its own).

I don’t know exactly when it dawned on me that I was never seeing women characters that I wanted to be. It was certainly after I became a film critic; maybe it was the additional exposure to so many more movies, and almost all of them about men, that finally caused something to click. I was never seeing women characters having adventures, saving the world, righting wrongs, meting out justice, risking life and limb, kissing a handsome man or three, and having the time of their lives along the way.

I love all kinds of movies, but for whatever reason — perhaps because I am a child of the 1980s explosion in blockbuster films, which hit during my most impressionable early teen years — the movies I love most are the big-budget Hollywood flicks (when they’re done right, of course, which they mostly aren’t, but that’s another essay for another day). I want movies to do this to me:

Maxwell ad

(And yes, it pisses me off that there isn’t a version of this ad with a woman in it, because women love being blown away by their entertainment, too. Though if there was, she’d probably be mostly naked and staring at the viewer with a come-fuck-me stare, and it would still be about promising men something.)

The movies that do that are action, adventure, science fiction, fantasy. Foreign dramas and charming indies can be their own kind of thrilling, but I love how viscerally overwhelming a Back to the Future or a Lord of the Rings can be. I want a movie to be huge. And I like a movie that takes me to imaginary places that can never exist.

But I am now very tired of being taken to those places only through the eyes of boys and men, as if they were the only ones who crave adventure and excitement. As if they were the only ones who want their dreams indulged.

So now, when I see a trailer for a new film that looks huge and exciting and full of adventure and hopefully not too stupid, I am all like, “Yeah! Awesome! Can’t wait!” But there’s a little voice in the back of my head that says, “Oh. Did he have to be a guy? Why couldn’t a woman be the intrepid journalist?” Or: “Are there no rock-star particle physicists who are women?”

Repeat for almost every trailer and every film.

I can watch a trailer for a new Arnold Schwarzenegger flick and think it looks pretty cool and want to see it, and know that I may well have a blast with it, and at the same time, I am thinking: “So, men can still be badasses at 70, which is not very likely but fine, yet they can’t even give him a wife or a girlfriend who’s close to the dude’s own age?”

I’m tired of men’s fantasies being indulged from every angle — badass at 70 + superhot 30something girlfriend — while women’s fantasies are all but ignored. This get worse when it comes to the kind of movies I’m less of a fan of (though I hasten to add that I want to love all kinds of movies, and frequently do… and I hate that I have to justify myself by even saying that). It’s more difficult to give a romantic comedy a fair chance when it is the umpteenth iteration of “schlubby homely guy thinks he deserves the love of a supermodel, and discovers that he is correct” and we have yet to see the opposite happen, even once. Yes, guys: some very rich, very powerful men will end up with supermodels even if they look like Oscar the Grouch, but most people, in the real world, end up with someone who is generally in the same attractiveness range. Most overweight UPS delivery guys, no matter how sweet they are, do not have hot wives. So where are all the fantasy stories about kind, funny, overweight secretaries with hot husbands? We should not expect the one without the other, and both are equally valid as fantasies… and yet Hollywood doesn’t even recognize that the first one is a fantasy.

I don’t want to be angry when I go to the movies. But it’s not my fault that I am, far too often. I deserve the same acknowledgement of my fantasies — which have nothing to do with overpriced shoes that are impossible to walk in, or fairy-tale weddings, not that there’s anything wrong with those fantasies, either — that the boys get.

Being a woman who loves movies these days requires an extra suspension of disbelief beyond what men have to engage in. I have to to try to look past the worlds they far too often depict, worlds in which women exist mostly as pawns in men’s games, have no hopes or dreams of their own, and take no spiritual or emotional journeys. Even the dumbest action flick sends its protagonist on a journey, and he has changed as a person by the time his story ends. Don’t women deserve that, too?

posted in:
maryann rants
  • Katie

    Whenever I see a movie I love, the first thing I do when I leave the theatre is flip the genders in my head and re-imagine the entire movie starring a woman (me). Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be India Jones or Marta McFly or Magneta (from the X-Women franchise). It’s pretty depressing when a thirtysomething woman who is willing to pay top dollar to see herself represented as powerful and in her prime…instead gets to see herself as the dehumanized sexxay wife of a man old enough to be her father.

    This is why I read books. At least there women can be the stars of their own adventures.

  • Steve Gagen

    I certainly agree with your point about it being mostly men who have the strong and interesting roles in (especially Holywood blockbuster) films. And it has always struck me as absurd that the wives/girlfriends in these films are always pretty 30-somethings while the men may be, as you say, 70-odd. It really doesn’t doesn’t gel with reality. But then does one expect Holywood to gel with reality? It’s one of the many reasons why I do not enjoy these sorts of films. I never had a problem identifying with a female character in a book or film as a child – or indeed now. I indentified with Alice in Lewis Carol’s books, and my hero/ine in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books was Georgina – not prissy Julian or silly Dick! And I remember being Polly in C.S. Lewis’ “The Magician’s Nephew”. I can’t speak for all other men, but if I had no problems with a strong female characters, I suspect other boys/men may not have such difficulties either. It’s the people who make films (or publish books) who seem to have problems.

  • But then does one expect Holywood to gel with reality?

    Not at all! But then why does the not-gelling-with-reality NEVER extend to plain women with hot guys, or women as bullwhip-wielding adventurers? :->

  • Steve Gagen

    Well, I’d be happy to see this. And I am sure that there are plenty or writers and actors and directors out there who’d be happy to oblige. But – as you know – the problem is the marketing and accounting people who run everything, and who will relentlessly squash down any idea that – in their tiny tidy minds – isn’t guaranteed to make money. Publishing has gone the same way. The small publishers – like my friend Al who founded Hyland House Press in Australia – have largely gone, or – like Hyland House now – just publish gardening books and the like. I remember – 30 years ago – Al telling me how he would publish an author because he thought the work was worth publishing and might find a small audience. He was willing to take a chance. I don’t think these sorts of publishers exist any more!

  • Jess Haskins

    “I wanted to be Indiana Jones (though also, simultaneously, to be kissed
    by Indiana Jones, a type of pop-culture dichotomy that is probably worth
    another essay of its own).”

    I want to read this essay.

  • Bluejay

    “(from the X-Women franchise)”

    There is, in fact, an X-Men series featuring all female characters.


    Of course, it’s not a movie…

  • Bluejay

    Re: the “plain woman who gets the hot guy” fantasy: I suppose there’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (at least from what I remember of the story; she IS supposed to be plain, isn’t she?). Though that’s the ONLY example I can think of.

  • LaSargenta

    …and that is THE example that gets trotted out time and again for exactly that reason.

  • cinderkeys

    “But then why does the not-gelling-with-reality NEVER extend to plain women with hot guys, or women as bullwhip-wielding adventurers?”

    Right. This was my first complaint about DIVERGENT, for a recent example. In the book, Tris describes herself as plain, and it’s not out of a lack of self-esteem — other characters agree with her, albeit usually in a nice way. So in the movie? She’s played by Shailene Woodley, who gives an excellent performance in everything she’s in, but is by no stretch of the imagination “plain.” They didn’t even bother to make her appear less attractive at the beginning of the movie, when she’d have a good excuse.

    Sigh. At least she still gets to have adventures and experience character growth.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Heh. Jane Rizzoli in the Rizzoli & Isles novels is frequently described as plain and regards herself the same way. Yet in the TV series, she is played by actress Angie Harmon, who, of course, is anything but plain. And that’s just one of the many irritating differences between the books’ characters and the TV show’s characters. (Personally I like the books better.)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Back in the 1980s, female X-people like Kitty Pryde and Storm were major characters. In fact, former X-Men scribe Chris Claremont used to have the same rep for writing strong female characters that writer Joss Whedon enjoys today. Apparently all that changed when the series was adapted for the movies.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I don’t suppose the Seth Green character’s part of The Italian Job remake’s epilogue counts as the female equivalent of that stereo ad?

    Spoiler for said remake:

    Seth Green uses an ultra-powerful stereo system to literally blow his girlfriend’s clothes off.

  • She’s not “plain.”

  • Maybe I’ll write it. :->

  • RogerBW

    I suspect that one of the problems is that white heterosexual men are still regarded as “default human beings”, while women, non-white people, etc., are “human beings with something different”. So a film for a general audience is a film about white heterosexual men, and a film about a white homosexual man is A Film For Homosexuals, a film about a white heterosexual woman is A Film For Women, and so on.

    I was reading earlier about the rise of the megafranchise, as other studios attempt to imitate the success of the Disney/Marvel Avengers films with slates of one film per year based on the same property. It’s rather saddening to realise that the most recent of these properties is X-Men, and all the others (Spider-Man, Star Wars, Batman, classic Universal monsters) are from eras when being “the chick” was generally seen as sufficient distinction for a character, and having a second chick on the team was revolutionary. X-Men isn’t exactly great in this regard either, though (as Tonio points out) it’s had its moments.

    What do we get in filmic female archaeologists? Not many, and most of them are just a redress of the sexy female librarian stereotype. And then there’s Relic Hunter. Woo.

  • I suspect that one of the problems is that white heterosexual men are still regarded as “default human beings”, while women, non-white people, etc., are “human beings with something different”.

    Close. Straight white men aren’t just the default but the only real “human beings” or “people.” Everyone else is Other. Not quite human.

  • Jurgan

    I had a similar experience with playing Ninja Turtles with a female friend when I was young. She was okay playing April, but she absolutely refused to be a damsel in distress. People forgot that in the early episodes, April was a hard-nosed reporter who would not be dissuaded from a story. She once threatened to blow up her entire office building in order to push past her boss who didn’t take her seriously. That was a character you could identify with, even if she was the only woman in the regular cast.

  • bronxbee

    i remember a german movie called “Sweetie Pie” which was remade as a US movie starring Rikki Lake (?) about a very heavy, plain young woman, who sets here sights on a handsome (but not extraordinarily so) young train conductor… and she goes about attracting him with a planned assault on his senses… i also remember when i was a girl (back in the days when tv was shown on cave walls) that there were tv shows about women doing cool stuff: Mrs. Peel on the Avengers, the Girl from UNCLE, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Honey West, Wonder Woman, etc. … i don’t know what happened to tv… or to the movies… where at the Bette Davises, the Rosalind Russells, Carole Lombard, etc. who had lives and plans and dreams… sometimes they got the guy, sometimes that didn’t work out so well… one of the first movie serials that was really successful was called The Perils of Pauline… though it should have been the “adventures of Pauline”… when was it decided we didn’t want to have lives of fun and adventure?

  • Tonio Kruger

    The hard-nosed female reporter was hardly that much of a novelty back then. Remember Lois Lane in the Superman movies? Billie Newman in the TV show Lou Grant? Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome? Murphy Brown? I know I’m dating myself by mentioning such PCRs but the point is April was not that rare.

    Heck, back in the 1930s, there was a whole series of films dedicated to a hard-nosed female reporter named Torchy Blaine which was so popular back then that it inspired the creation of Lois Lane. Yet, ironically, hardly anyone save the most OCD of movie buffs even remembers it today.

    Which is part of the problem. There are a lot of strong female characters out there. However, no one in Hollywood is willing to take notice of them…

  • Ralph

    Please watch The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. It’s basically a product of your alternate universe, albeit in French. Not a Hollywood production (though directed by Luc Besson who’s certainly no stranger to the place).

  • That’s a great film. But it’s only *one* film.

  • The 1930s and 40s were *so much* better for female protagonists…

  • TV today is better for women, overall, then movies are. The women on TV aren’t generally doing cool stuff that’s fantastical, but they are doing real jobs and living complicated lives, unlike in movies.

  • Ralph

    Absolutely agreed – hence my “alternate universe” bit. But I like to see it as a sliver of hope as well!

  • I’ve ranted about this so many times I’ve lost count. The scary thing is that NOTHING HAS GOTTEN BETTER for little girls since the 70’s and 80’s of my childhood. For ever Frozen, there are a dozen Cars and Smurfs and Lego Movie with ONE significant female part. And oh, yeah, she’s great, but she’s ONE CHARACTER. (And I swear to God, the next person who mentions Ellie from Up, a character who gets about 15 minutes and five lines of the movie, which is STILL MORE than any other woman or girl, gets the Complete Wonder Woman thrown at their head).

    Do you know where I’ve had to turn for women and girls having kickass adventures for my daughter to watch? Barbie movies. Sure, they’re sparkly and so pink you think you’re in Pepto-Bismal land, and they’re all an excuse to release new dolls, but they’re filled with girls and women who are movers and shakers, heroes and villains, and who are usually too busy saving the kingdom to have more than the most cursory of romances. I keep wanting to send the best for or five to Pixar with a note that says, “Learn, people.”

  • Oh, and also, superhero cartoons: Superfriends. There were others, but that was the dominant force, so to speak.

  • Jurgan

    Is there really an objective measure for “plainness?” I think any woman could look attractive or unattractive based on the standards of the person judging. When I hear “plain,” I think of someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about her looks. She wears jeans and puts her hair in a ponytail and rarely bothers with make-up. My wife fits that description, but I certainly think she’s attractive. So I don’t think I would judge that based on who was cast- it’s more an issue for make-up and wardrobe.

  • Jurgan

    Of course, it’s the male character doing it to the female character and not her choosing to do it herself. I think that’s what you’re saying- I saw that movie when it was in theaters, and I don’t remember much.

  • Jurgan

    It was still better than the perpetual kidnapping victim most people remember her as. That interpretation came more from the video games, and perhaps some later seasons of the show. On the other hand, in the comics and other versions, she was a scientist, and also a black woman in some cases. There’s a whole lot of reinterpreting and revision that went on, and still does.

  • Jurgan

    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Maybe you already know about it or don’t like it, but if you don’t, I recommend it for just the reasons you mention.

  • LaSargenta

    Waaaaaay back in high school, I was in a play called The Butler Did It that had a character (who I played) called Charity Haze who was a parody of the English cartoon Modesty Blaise. I had read some of Modesty Blaise (access to occasional English newspapers) at the time and filled in my fellow actors about her. In the years since, I’ve read a lot more of her stories and have no clue as to why there isn’t a franchise for that character. She even has a sexy male sidekick (who she doesn’t fuck, they both have other lovers).

    Wish we could have her in some blockbuster stuff. Not by Tarantino — there’s been a rumor that he was interested. No, I’d like it done by someone with a different sense of humor and who wouldn’t get rid of the “englishness” of the character. Hmmmm.

  • LaSargenta

    …PS: Gave it a moment’s thought. I think Martin Campbell could really make great things out of the Modesty Blaise stories.

  • RogerBW

    Scott Spiegel (!) did a surprisingly good job with My Name Is Modesty, but it was only made so that Miramax could keep squatting on the film rights — no chance of any follow-ups.

  • LaSargenta

    That went direct to video…years ago. As I wrote, I “[w]ish we could have her in some blockbuster stuff.”

  • Tonio Kruger

    Alas, you’re right. I never saw it in the theatre but I did see it on cable. And it would have been a lot closer to the stereo ad had it been the woman’s choice.

  • Is there really an objective measure for “plainness?”

    No, of course not. But it is definitely a fact that Angie Harmon is not plain.

    Also, what you think of as “plain” is not how most people are using that word.

  • Jurgan

    So there’s no objective definition, but it’s a definite fact that a certain actress isn’t it? I think I’ve lost the thread of this conversation.

  • Yeah, I’m saying that while there may be disagreement on whether someone is plain, there are people about whom one can say, “Eh, not my cup of tea, but definitely ‘attractive’ in the conventionally agreed-upon sense.”

  • Exactly. Some people we all just KNOW not to be “plain” regardless of whether we personally find them attractive.
    To me, “plain” in a real world way means not particularly attractive to a majority of the population. Possibly slightly overweight, not all that fashionable, doesn’t wear makeup, etc.
    Shailene Woodley walking down the street in jeans and a ponytail, makeup or not, is most certainly not going to be plain. At least not to me.

  • ld

    My 10-year-old nephew (who is very boyish) loves this show. So perhaps even boys would like more girls in cartoons.

  • amanohyo

    Not too many years ago, I would have had similar complaints about what it meant to be a woman who loves comics and/or video games, but as with television, there’s been significant progress in those media (a lot further to go of course). The high financial barrier and tight network of old boys’ club producers seem to be important factors preventing female-centered scripts from getting greenlit. We’ll get there in time. As Frozen shows, the money is just too big to ignore.

    I do wish there was some kind of feminist Elon Musk who would bankroll a studio that focused on movies with female adventurers-kind of like that producer Geena Davis plays in In A World… except not quite as cynical. That reminds me, I heard a female voice on a trailer for the first time last week. I don’t remember the title; unfortunately, it didn’t sound too interesting. Still, it was cool to hear a woman’s voice for once.

    On a slightly related note, I hate to sully this thread with commerce, but The Hole of Tank Girl is on sale at amazon for $62.48 if you’re into that kind of thing… and you really should be if you like wacky female centered hijinks and cool art. I’m not one of those people that thinks the Tank Girl movie was utter crap, but I really wish someone with a budget and some clout would take another swing at it (I’d prefer a female director but Rodriguez or Tarantino would be easy picks, Whedon could do a decent job too). Not gonna happen, but I can dream.

    On a slightly more related note, I continue to work intermittently on my Bubblegum Crisis script and my urban Seven Samurai remake starring six women and one man. I figure it’ll take a few reverse Smurfettes to make the general public realize how ridiculous the original trope is. Now I just need to get trapped in an elevator with Kathryn Bigelow and/or Ridley Scott and I’ll be all set…

  • Hank Graham

    Adventure? Ha! Excitement? Ha! A Jedi craves not these things.

    I know, I know–this is far too silly a response to a very good essay, but someone had to write that.

  • Hank Graham

    Hey, the most famous “plain” character in all literature is Jane Eyre. In the movies she’s been played by Joan Fontaine and Susannah York. They simulated plainness by having them not wear lipstick.

  • zak

    In today’s film industry, outside of franchises, action stars seem to be the ones who rake in the audience bucks and enable big budget projects to be green-lighted (even if they aren’t always playing action roles).
    So in light of the concern expressed in this article, one thing to do would seem to try to give greater attention to vehicles for female action stars, with an eye to helping raise the profile of such figures, and such projects.

    One such movie just opened – it’s called In the Blood, an action thriller starring Gina Carano. Soderbergh cast her in Haywire hoping to make her an action star, and this seems to be the first movie since then to gamble on that promise by headlining her.

    Recently there have been a couple of projects in development discussed that have described themselves as “female Expendables” films (yes – two or three! One with Carano, another possibly with Streep, and I think a third called “ExpendaBelles”). Film websites started eliciting lists of
    candidates from their audiences, but the suggestions only served to clarify that we have virtually no female action stars in Hollywood. There have been actresses who’ve played a single leading or supporting character repeatedly in franchises (Weaver, Hamilton, Thurman, Johansson, Rodriguez), with the most prominent leading ladies cast and directed repeatedly by their husbands, or husbands-to-be (Jovovich, Beckinsale), who have done virtually no action roles outside of that.

    This is in sharp contrast to industries in Hong Kong, India, China, Japan, or Southeast Asia, which have long traditions of action films headlined by females. (We’ve been unable to get even the iconic Wonder Woman off the ground, while her Filipino equivalent has been adapted over and over again for decades)

    What actresses would qualify here? The only female equivalent to an A-list Stallone or Willis is Angelina Jolie, whose name has served to attract audiences to big budget action films showcasing her as a lead playing different action characters. On this level, Zoe Saldana had a good chance when she tried to establish herself independently in Columbiana. That didn’t do well, and so she reverted back to her male-driven franchises and normal dramatic fare. Scarlett Johansson might be trying with her new Luc Besson project.

    Who else could qualify? Once you leave the A-list category, there have been older veterans on the B level like Cynthia Rothrock and Pam Grier, who could be comparable to Seagal or Van Damme. Further down, on video, scream queens like Julie Strain or Brinke Stevens have often assumed action hero duties, along with other video stars like Shannon Tweed.

    Currently, I can only think of Gina Carano and Zoe Bell lining up as prospective B-listers, and they haven’t yet taken off. Both have just released films that are gambling on the possibility of a female action star, In the Blood and Raze, that would seem to be very important in assessing the future viability of these actresses, and both films have gotten scant attention from reviewers. Yet they’re no worse, no lower profile than any number of other B-grade action thrillers that are garnering attention.

    I have no connection with either of these films, but I’d say that the least a reviewer could do, who’s concerned about the profile of women in today’s action-heavy climate, is keep an eye out for efforts like this, which are effectively testing the marketability of female-driven actioners, and at least give them the attention of a review – ideally, using the same standards that, say, a Van Damme vehicle would warrant.

    Reviewers seem to play a big role in blocking or downplaying discussion of prospective female action stars. When they review such films at all, it often seems to me standards come into play that aren’t applied to the male stars. Check out the Rotten Tomato reviews. Carano’s acting ability
    is suddenly seen as a major obstacle to enjoying the film – when was this ever an issue for Seagal or Norris? Saldana’s film was attacked repeatedly for sexualizing her – what about all the times Stallone or Van Damme took their shirts off? Or you may have a case like Paula Patton in
    Mission Impossible 4 – the film showcases her spectacularly as a prospective strong-arm peer to Tom Cruise, and yet it seemed virtually all of the critical attention went to the male stars.

    I’ve picked out a couple of prominent examples, but I see this pattern again and again. What’s going on?

  • In today’s film industry, outside of franchises, action stars seem to be the ones who rake in the audience bucks

    Wrong, in fact. See this: https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2014/04/movies-pass-bechdel-test-make-money-movies-dont.html

    Reviewers seem to play a big role in blocking or downplaying discussion of prospective female action stars. When they review such films at all, it often seems to me standards come into play that aren’t applied to the male stars. Check out the Rotten Tomato reviews. Carano’s acting ability
    is suddenly seen as a major obstacle to enjoying the film – when was this ever an issue for Seagal or Norris?

    You should take this up with the critics who did that. Ask them why!

    Saldana’s film was attacked repeatedly for sexualizing her – what about all the times Stallone or Van Damme took their shirts off?

    If I recall correctly, Saldana’s film had her taking a sexy shower? When did Stallone or Van Damme ever do that? You simply cannot compare a guy taking his shirt off the way that’s treated in most films to the way women are sexualized in most films. They’re on completely different planets.

  • bronxbee

    by the way, i love the title picture!

  • Oh, yeah, we love that show.

  • Mike

    Ah, the poor oppressed American white woman. If lead star of every (and I mean EVERY) action/adventure film isn’t female, it’s sexism.

  • No, it’s not.

    If you’d like to join the conversation, please do so.

  • vjp81955

    Pre-WWII: Carole Lombard.
    Post-WWII: Marilyn Monroe.
    Enough said (no, not really; apologies to Monroe, who was wonderful, but she has less to say to today’s women than Lombard).

  • LaSargenta

    Hey! Look what I found to be using the Bechdel Test! http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/04/what-the-scarcity-of-women-in-business-case-studies-really-looks-like/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29&cm_ite=DailyAlert-042914+%281%29&cm_lm=sp%3Asjohnson%40mrce.com&cm_ven=Spop-Email
    Nifty interactive graphic a bit down the page…

    AND, there’s an interesting (though, probably unsurprising) bit of this research:

    None of the teaching notes for the case studies with women protagonists raised their gender as a potential issue in analyzing the case, which, in at least some courses, would seem to be relevant to the course topic.

    This is a critical omission, as research shows that similar behavior is interpreted differently when observed in a man or a woman. In one example, a pair of Columbia Business School professors took a Harvard Business School case study about a venture capitalist named Heidi Roizen and changed her name to “Howard” in half of the classes taught. The professors then surveyed the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. While both Heidi and Howard were rated as equally competent, students said they found Heidi less humble and more power hungry and self-promoting than Howard.

    As I have frequently said, out loud and to myself, Guilty As Charged: Working While Female! So it’s damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t. And so many people wonder why I act the way I do. *shrug*

  • Sure, it’s related.

    Perhaps this perception problem is part of why the men who run Hollywood can’t imagine women protagonists: because women doing the same things that men do in movies are perceived of as less sympathetic.

    More movies with women protagonists could change this.

    And yes, women cannot ever win. There is no path we can take that cannot be criticized, no way we can behave that is ever neutral.

  • LaSargenta

    And financial services firms can’t imagine having a female CEO, and so forth. Did you play around with the graphic?

  • Not really. What’s special about it?

  • LaSargenta

    Not anything from the my typical point of view, but in the context of where the article was published and what it showed (data points getting progressively fewer), it made me guffaw. I played with it when I hit it, then below it read that the study was specifically referring to Bechdel. I think it makes a good basic point for the article.

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