Women Studies/The Film Industry

The Film Industry


The film industry is a major media source in which men and women compete actively for success. This success relies on many factors, gender being the most important and then perhaps appearance and talent following close behind. Marshall Fine, author and film critic, of the Huffington Post claims in his article titled, “The Double-Standard for Movie Actresses” stated that women seem to “age out” of the spotlights for heroes in romantic comedies and dramas “by the time they’re in their early 40s – if not sooner ” (Fine). He continues on to explain that their male counterparts can continue their roles in these parts well into their lives because men are portrayed as sex icons all their life. Fine states that “if you’re in that 12 – 24-year-old demo, women in their 40s don’t look like sex objects – they look like mom.” His statement brings forth an all too familiar subject for women actresses: objectification.

Women must portray themselves as objects in order to secure a job, which then shows young generations that this is the key to success, and not the art of refining talents into greatness of its own. His statement also gives negative feedback to the “mom” look, discrediting motherhood and thus showing a major source of why women are pushed out of film opportunities. Through the Labyrinth, written by Alice Eagly and Linda Carli, answers the very important question: Do Family Responsibilities Hold Women Back? Eagly and Carli claim to answer “yes” to this question by stating that “women are currently responsible for the bulk of domestic work. This situation lessens women’s prospects for advancement through the labyrinth” (Eagly 49). The “Labyrinth” being the path towards success in a career, compared to the male path, which is described more as an escalator, or a quicker route to the top. Their work shows that women who rely only on themselves for domestic duties they tend to “suffer workplace disadvantage.” These disadvantages can include limiting advancements in positions that may “yield greater income and prestige” (Eagly 56).

Jennifer Garner speaks out in an interview for ABC News, after attending a “Women in Hollywood” event, about the struggle women face with domestic duties. She shows her confusion for the purpose of this event, wishing that it could just be a “People of Hollywood” event; “I mean, the men in Hollywood event is every day – it’s called Hollywood” (Fisher). Garner, a prominent actress, shows Hollywood remains a “boy’s club,” outlining that much work in order to achieve gender equality within the film industry needs to be done. Garner also explains that during interviews she most often receives the questions such as “How do you balance work and family?” whereas her husband Ben Affleck receives questions more geared towards female costars or questions about the film in general.

The most popular reason for women receiving limitations within the film industry appears to be the assumption that their responsibilities lie first with their children and then with their careers. The article “Camera Angels: Film is one of the most powerful tools, or weapons, we have to shape views and lives. As long as directors are mainly men, this will be a man’s world. Rachel Millward focuses on the exceptional women in a dangerously unbalanced culture”, by Rachel Millward, describes the outcomes of the festival called Birds Eye View, a “platform for women filmmakers” which gives fresh perspectives and points of view. Director Mike Figgis explains that “film permeates all culture…[it] has a huge influence on the way we behave (Millward).” Due to film seeming so influential in lives of people around the world, he encourages that the film industry be more open to accepting women directors, and to also encourage more women to break into the field to expand the abilities and influences of film. Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors that limit these women breaking into film seems to be the decision between career and family. Millward claims there will never be an equal split of women and men directors because women are made to chose between not having a child or leaving them for months at a time to be on set.

Women in the film industries constantly battle stereotypes of placing the family before their careers. Though this stereotype may ring true in statistics according to Eagly and Carli, it does seem to be a barrier for both actresses and other fields in film such as directors. Women must make the choice between children and family or advancement in their careers unless the Hollywood inner circles allow fresh opinions belonging to women. Along with these new perspectives, the assumption that women belong with their families over their careers needs to be relinquished and replaced with more views of gender equality.