Girl Empowerment website www.TowardTheStars.com wanted to find out exactly what girls and their parents do want to see. They asked their 100 000 strong community who were their favorite fictional female role models? This is what they said.
So here it is! These characters have inspired our women and girls as they were growing up. Strong, independent, intelligent, resourceful, outspoken, irreverent characters who take charge of their own destinies. (PS. Some of the men in our community also answered these questions). And yet the people in charge of making decisions regarding which books and movies receive the investment necessary to reach the mainstream audience fail to acknowledge and respond to what women and girls want. Why? Why are strong, multifaceted female characters still the exception to the rule in family media?
Here are the facts:
• Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. This ratio is the same as it was in 1946.
• Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
• From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.
source: Geena Davis institute on Gender in Media
• Males are central characters in 57% of children’s books published each year, with just 31% having female central characters.
• Male animals are central characters in 23% of books per year, the study found, while female animals star in only 7.5%.
Source: The Guardian – Gender Imbalance In Children’s Literature
The Bechdel Test test is a very basic tool to measure women’s relevance to a plot and to assess female presence in movies. It asks 3 very simple questions. Does it have:
1. At least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man?
Out of 9 best picture Oscar nominees in 2011 only 2 clearly pass the bechdel test.
Out of 9 best picture Oscar nominees in 2012 only 3 clearly pass the bechdel test.
To the editors, the producers, the decision makers in charge of our family media – IT IS TIME TO START LISTENING TO WHAT WOMEN AND GIRLS WANT!
Please! No more damsels in distress, no more shopping obsessed beauty queens, we have plenty of these already!
Our daughters want to be inspired by badass, outspoken, intelligent girls and women that save the day! Our sons will benefit enormously from seeing strong female characters in media. The world will be a better place when girls and boys are encouraged to speak up and change the world for the better.
Chief Super Hero Wannabe @ TowardTheStars.com
PS. How we created the word cloud:
We collated all the answers we received from our community on facebook and twitter and added a vote for the number of Facebook likes for each answer (excluding our own enthusiastic likes).
We were left with a total of 2036 votes/recommendations.
We then ensured entries for the same female character were named exactly in the same way.
And Voila! We created a magic girl power word cloud.