Film series focuses on women

TRUSU women’s representative looks at the state of women in film

Karla Karcioglu, Roving Editor Ω

Olivia Skagos screened The Help as the first movie in the TRUSU's Bechdel test film series. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

Olivia Skagos screened The Help as the first movie in the TRUSU’s Bechdel test film series. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

TRUSU women’s representative Olivia Skagos aimed to show students the prevalence of gender inequality in films with a screening of The Help on Oct. 22 in the TRUSU lecture hall. The screening was the first part of TRUSU’s Bechdel test film series.

According to Skagos, the Bechdel test analyzes movies based on three criteria: the movie must have two female characters, the female characters must have a conversation with each other and the conversation must not be about a man.

“When I first heard about this test, I didn’t think this was that big of an issue,” Skagos said.

Upon investigating her own collection of movies, Skagos realized that a significant amount of them didn’t pass the test.

According to a study from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, called Gender Inequality in 500 Popular Films, females were “grossly under represented on-screen in 2012,” featured in only 28 per cent of speaking roles.

The study analyzed 500 top-grossing movies, 100 for each year from 2007-2012. It found that female characters in 2012 were more likely to be sexualized than males. Thirty-one per cent of females were partially naked in movies, compared to only 9.4 per cent of men.

For females 13 to 20, 55.6 per cent wore “sexually revealing attire,” compared to 33.9 per cent of females age 21-39 and only 16.4 per cent of females age 40-64. Females age 13 to 20 also had the highest percentage of partial and full nudity at 55.8 per cent.

The study states that the female roles per age category suggest a “sell-by date” for female actors. It found that women 21 to 39 held the majority of female on-screen roles at 54 per cent, compared to men of the same age at 44 per cent. Women age 40 to 64, had 23 per cent of on screen roles, whereas men of the same age had 36 per cent. The lowest percentage for female roles were for women 65 and older, at 3.7 per cent, compared to men of the same age at 5.5 per cent.

The study also revealed a gender imbalance behind the camera. “Only 16.7% of the 1,228 directors, writers, and producers [were] female across the 100 top-grossing films of 2012.”

Skagos said she hopes the Bechdel test film series will show a large variety of films on campus that aren’t as male-centric in order to create an empowering message that leaves students with a good feeling.

Skagos said approximately 15 students came to the screening of The Help.


“Midsized groups like the one we got are great for post-film discussion, and it lends itself to creating a really positive group dynamic,” she said.

Skagos said the next film in the series will be screened sometime in the winter semester.