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Bechdel Test- Gender Bias in Movies

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Penumbra, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Well-Known Member

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    Indeed! It happens all the time in commercials nowadays. The bumbling idiot husband is failing miserably at performing a simple task, whilst the woman (with her arms folded in the background making a tsk-tsk gesture) shakes her head and then proceeds to fix the problem with ease, whilst the husband watches with embarrassment.
     
  2. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    What agenda would you say they are trying to drive?

    The agenda that perhaps an entirely trilogy of movies directed towards a broad audience should perhaps have more than three named female characters that never talk to each other?

    As previously mentioned in this thread, the purpose is not to be a test to see whether it's gender-equal or not. It's simply a test to observe something- that in a long complex work, there were male/male interactions, male/female interactions, but no female/female interactions.

    For example, one person in this thread pointed out in retrospect that his favorite movie is indeed highly male-centered (even though it's not necessarily anti-woman or inherently sexist in anyway) for no particular reason other than that's just how it ended up, like many, many other movies and other works of older and modern fiction.
     
  3. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

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    One of the things that annoys me about that is it seems to me to be a very patriarchal way for the media to throw women a bone. Sure, we're probably not going to cast you as a senator, a doctor, a scientist or a CEO very often, but you sure do a great job of wiping a counter top! Look how helpless your husband is at that highly sophisticated specialized skill!
     
  4. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Well-Known Member

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    Good point. It does always seem to be around the house. As if to say: "silly man, this is a woman's arena".
     
  5. MysticSang'ha

    MysticSang'ha Big Squishy Hugger
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    I giggle at the idea of a rugged truck commercial, where a man is bumbling about trying to hitch a trailer full of steel beams onto the back of the truck, and a woman is smirking and shaking her head, rolling her eyes, and then hitching the trailer herself.

    Or coaching a football team.

    Or drinking a bottle of beer correctly.

    I think the "bumbling dude meme" is silly and stupid too, but I also think if we're going to try to fool audiences that way, we should just go all out. :p
     
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  6. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Well-Known Member

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    G.I Jane showing Rambo how to get **** done. :D

    "So that's how you destroy an enemy base...."
     
  7. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    I guess I'm just not seeing it as anything special because I'm already aware of the bias, and there are so many ways to manipulate such a loose definition.:shrug:
    Males have wrote the bulk majority of fiction, especially prior to contemporary times, and it will have a male bias. I even know a high school director that will cast two girls for the same part because in most plays there are several male parts but at most a few female parts.
    I've always seen the bumbling idiot guy stereotype to be a negative one towards men. It's almost like it's saying men are too stupid and preoccupied with sports, women, and cheap beer to know how to do anything to function in the real world. I think it was a CVS where I heard a store radio commercial advertising a picture collage service that is "so easy even dad will do it."
     
  8. Me Myself

    Me Myself Back to my username

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    In the sitcoms I ve seen he is rarely very kind hearted xD
     
  9. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

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    Yes, I think patriarchal gender stereotypes in general are negative for both men and women. Men are naturally too stupid and helpless to cook spaghetti without setting the house on fire. Women are naturally so good at making spaghetti they should never aspire to anything more. That kind of dynamic sucks for everybody. If my husband had to start the gas mower and I had to cook supper, we'd both be miserable. On top of that, we'd probably starve to death and nobody would ever find our bodies among the weeds.
     
  10. Me Myself

    Me Myself Back to my username

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    Tats rarely the depiction of women in e sitcoms I ve watched.

    Though I dont at all have roblems with stereotypes in sitcoms, as long as they make me laugh.

    Now if they are COMPLETELY stereotypical, the chars tend to be too 2d to force a laugh out of me.

    I mean which sitcoms you talking about specifically?

    i ve watched Reba, grounded for life, comitted, still standing, boston legal, big bang theory, modern family...
     
  11. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

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    I wasn't talking specifically about sitcoms at all. I was talking about media in general. The stereotypes that persist throughout the "serious" media are most obvious in advertising.
     
  12. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    I think if you ask a given person if there is gender bias in media, they'll say yeah. But the magnitude of it doesn't seem apparent to people, especially many guys I've noticed.

    For example, someone will be like "Star Wars had strong women! Leia was strong, right?" But if I point out that just about every single person they encountered in every context was a dude in that trilogy, that there were three named women in 8 hours of film, it quantifies the issue a bit.

    As has already been granted, some movies just inherently aren't going to score well int his area. Saving Private Ryan and The Shawshank Redemption, for example. No sane person would fault those movies as gender biased, because in context it makes sense. And if there's a movie with almost no characters in it, like the Disappearance of Alice Creed or something, then clearly nobody is going to fault that.

    But when a significant percentage of long, complex movies have little or no female/female dialog, it shows a rather enormous bias in films and other fiction.

    I don't consider that a reasonable excuse for them. I write stories and they don't have a female bias.

    My longest story has a male protagonist and a male antagonist, but major parts from a variety of male and female characters. The wisest character is an old man. The most active antagonist (probably the character with the second largest share of the story besides the male protagonist and the most depth out of anyone) is a woman.

    Another one has a male and female as equal protagonists.

    Looking back at these stories, there was no effort to add males or females or make it gender balanced. At roughly 50% of the population each, in most contexts it would just naturally work out roughly that way if people weren't thinking from a gender-centric position. There is considerable male/male, female/male, and female/female interaction in all of my stories just by default, and I'd have to go out of my way to make a story so slanted towards one gender unless there was a very specific context (like a historical retelling of WW2 front combat lines) or a shorter story with a small number of characters.

    And as for the works prior to contemporary times, they can get a bit of a pass but entirely new stories are coming out in the '80s, '90's, 00's, and 10's that still have the same weird ratio of men and women in movies.
     
  13. Me Myself

    Me Myself Back to my username

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    The only ones I can think of is tryng to put sexy women in them, but that is rating based simply the smart move.
     
    #173 Me Myself, Apr 25, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  14. Mathematician

    Mathematician Reason, and reason again

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    Lol more incredulous 'men just need to understand women because they're oppressed' nonsense. How many movies portray men as little more than violent neanderthals or sex-craved lunatics? Then let's get back to sexual stereotypes.
     
  15. Mathematician

    Mathematician Reason, and reason again

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    Or it's matriarchal since it portrays men as idiots and women as benevolent super-gods capable of work, household chores, and managing family affairs without the need for a man.

    Media portrays men as intelligent = patriarchy.
    Media portrays men as idiots = patriarchy.

    You just can't win against feminism.
     
  16. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

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    I don't think the image of men being helpless around the house is meant to portray them as idiots. They are meant to be bad at wiping counter tops because they're spending most of their time doing Important Work and haven't got time for housework.

    It's ridiculous to suggest that the ability to wipe a counter top is something that portrays anybody, male or female, in a godlike way.
     
  17. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Sports, women, cheap beer. What else is a man supposed to amount to? Even men are starting to be portrayed as dimwitted, shallow, superficial, image-driven drones, and it may not be too long before things like anorexia become much more common in men.
    And then of course a man isn't supposed to be encultured, because he is supposed to be watching men jump on each other and slap each other on the ***. Actually, to be encultured, to dance, to be able to name classic painters and sculptures, to watch non-violent sports, is somehow supposed to degrade a man's masculinity.
    If I had to sum it up, I would say women are oppressed and men are unhealthy, as well as oppressed in some areas, especially custody and divorce.
    Rather than some test based on an arbitrary definition, why not just point out the bias, oppression, unfairness, and general misinterpretations of both genders in the media at large? I for one don't care much for the sports obsessed macho tough guy who can't dance.
    **edited**
    I am curious though, what are the stastics like in Canada as far as divorce and custody go? Here in America it is hard for a mother to be proven unfit, dad's do not typically get more than Wednesday and every other weekend, and alot of men do get screwed in a divorce. It's almost as if it's assumed men cannot even hope to compare with women when caring for children and the guy is almost always the bad guy in divorce.
    Women do have it worse than men, but nevertheless some things do work unfairly towards women. Just the psychology alone of everyone else but white men having their days, weeks, months, or whatever to celebrate can make on feel abit insignificant. From what I gather from some of the more far-leaning groups, white men should feel guilty just for being white men.
    And of course a man is not supposed to ever cry no matter what, which is probably one of the worst things men have going for them.
     
    #177 Shadow Wolf, Apr 28, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  18. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Well-Known Member

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    Personally this is one of the reasons why I think a lot of men have anger issues during their adulthood. The only emotion boys are allowed to show is aggression. To even think about crying or showing any signs of insecurity will be met with "Gaaaay!" and other forms of ridicule. So our society (at least in parts of the UK) seems to reinforce to boys and men that aggression is the only emotion "real" males are supposed to show.
     
  19. MysticSang'ha

    MysticSang'ha Big Squishy Hugger
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    I know. I think it's so sad, too.

    Who tells boys they shouldn't cry, btw? Is it exclusively males? Exclusively females? Both? More one than the other? Media? School? Parents?

    Where do you all hear it coming from the most?
     
  20. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm good question. It's difficult to pin-point who does it the most, although it's probably more from males. The time in my life where it was most prominant was in highschool/college by primarily other males, however it hasn't died out much as people get older.

    Very rarely have I seen a woman/girl be ridiculed for crying, in the sense that it's not something their sex is supposed to be doing. :shrug:

    I know this is only anecdotal, but to me it seems to be that if a Woman cries it generates sympathy, if a Man cries it generates ridicule.
     
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