See Jane

• In the 101 studied films, there are three male characters for every one female character.
• Fewer than one out of three (28 percent) of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female.
• Fewer than one in five (17 percent) of the characters in crowd scenes are female.
• More than four out of five (83 percent) of the films’ narrators are male.

from “Where the Girls Aren’t.”

See Jane

Here’s one of those things that are so obvious that we have all forgotten about it in our rush to be post-feminist. Movies are fully dominated by men, in several different senses, even if women are increasingly powerful behind the scenes.

Gina Davis co-founded See Jane last year. “By making it common for our youngest children to see everywhere a balance of active and complex male and female characters,” Davis writes, “girls and boys will grow up to empathize with and care more about each others’ stories.”

I wonder if this sort of advocacy would have been possible if there were no women in power to listen. Or, perhaps, there will no change of this sort until there is a critical mass of women and men sympathetic to these sorts of issues. Either way, the research SeeJane sponsors is worth a look.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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