Geena Davis (of Thelma and Louise, The Long Kiss Goodnight, A League of Their Own et al. fame) runs a research-based organization (the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media), and recently came up with an incredibly simple way to combat Hollywood’s gender problem(s):
Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know.
And there you have it. You have just quickly and easily boosted the female presence in your project without changing a line of dialogue.
What do y’all think? I’m inclined to agree with Davis that this would be an simple, effective and powerful way in order to combat the lack of a female presence on the silver screen. Davis seems to be of a similar mind to me on the issue of representation; as she asserts at the end of her article:
Here’s what I always say: If they can see it, they can be it.
Representation won’t solve everything. But it’s important for women and other marginalized groups to see that their stories are worth telling too.