Read it and weep: the gender ratio of men to women in film is 3.4 men to 1 woman. For every female character that appears in a movie, there are at least three male characters in the same movie.
What’s even more disappointing is how women, in general, are portrayed through these female characters. It’s hard to find a female character that doesn’t fit into some type of degrading feminine stereotype. Think about it: how often do we see a movie with a unique, badass female lead?
It’s time to cut the crap, Hollywood. We want female movie leads that are clever, strong, independent, and real.
Here are nine female movie stereotypes that should be nixed immediately:
The Cold, Heartless Boss
“Florals? For spring? Ground breaking.” For some reason, Hollywood loves to use the cruel female boss character in movies. Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada is the perfect example. She’s callous, detached, and the main antagonist for our young Andy. However, this can’t be the stereotype for all women in positions of power. Instead, we should portray female bosses as motivated or brilliant, which most are in real life. Just because a woman is a girl boss doesn’t mean she’s a heartless robot.
The Damsel in Distress
The epitome of this stereotype is portrayed in just about every Nicholas Sparks movie. A broken woman with a troubled past and/or dark secret is completely lost until she is saved by an often-shirtless Josh Duhamel. The problem with this stereotype is that it perpetuates the idea that women need to be saved. Women are completely capable of solving their problems without the help of a hunky man. What we need is a movie where a woman can be her own knight in shining armor.
The Sleazy Journalist
When is Hollywood going to realize that female journalists don’t actually sleep with their sources? Most movies portraying female journalists don’t do the career justice; these characters will always have some sort of relationship with their male sources. Sometimes it’s a flirtation, but other times it’s a sex-for-secrets tradeoff. In Trainwreck, Amy Schumer’s journalist character has sex with the subject of her story after knowing him for less than 48 hours. Wake up, Hollywood: journalists follow this little thing called a code of ethics, and sleeping with a source is a BIG no-no. Female journalists have just as much integrity as their male counterparts.
This character is pretty simple: she’s an intelligent, ambitious, and driven working woman. She’s landed her dream job doing something she loves, so she spends most of her time at the office. Overall, she has her life together (except for the romantic department, of course). When she finally falls for Mr. Right, her job interferes with the relationship, and she’s forced to make a decision. Referencing The Devil Wears Prada once again, Anne Hathaway’s character is the workaholic. After her career takes off, her relationship with her boyfriend suffers, and she’s given an ultimatum. But why should she have to pick? Why is it so unimaginable that a woman can be as dedicated to her career as her significant other?
The Transformation Girl
With this stereotype, the story is always the same. The female character starts off wide-eyed and innocent, but as soon as she meets her Prince Charming, she completely changes her appearance, personality, and values in order to become the version of herself she believes her man will want. Think about Sandy from Grease. She changes her entire outward appearance in order to impress Danny Zuko. This can have detrimental implications for younger viewers, for the overall theme of these movies is “don’t be yourself if you want someone to fall in love with you.” A better option would be to have a female character that stays true to herself and still gets the guy.
The Dead Mother
What do Ariel, Jasmine, and Belle all have in common? (Other than being beautiful Disney princesses, of course.) All three of these princesses are missing their mothers. While Belle has Maurice, Jasmine has the Sultan, and Ariel has King Triton, a motherly figure is missing from these movies. The mothers that do appear in Disney princess movies are usually the villain trying to covet the youth and beauty of our young heroines. While some theorize that the absence of the mothers is due to Walt Disney’s own personal tragedy, it would be nice to see a motherly figure that isn’t a villain.
The Forever Single, All-Knowing Best Friend
This female character is a staple for most romantic comedies. While the main heroine of the movie navigates through her own dark and twisted romantic adventures, her best friend is always on the sideline giving out life-changing advice. This best friend, however, has absolutely nothing together. She’s promiscuous. She’s ditzy. She has great one-liners. Despite all this, she’s able to dish out the advice the other characters so desperately need. The perfect example of this is the best friend from the classic romantic comedy 27 Dresses. As Katherine Heigl’s character completely unravels, her ditzy best friend is there to pick up the pieces.
The High School Bitch
Regina George, is that you? To be completely honest, this stereotype is the most farfetched. I think most girls can agree that their high school experience didn’t revolve around torture from a blonde girl and her mindless clones. Hollywood loves to portray high school as a kingdom, and the Queen Bee and her clique rule the school. Movies like A Cinderella Story and Mean Girls depict this stereotype perfectly. Newsflash: the pretty, popular girl isn’t always a soulless demon. Regina George and her clan of Plastics don’t actually exist, and high school can actually be a positive experience.
The Desperate City Girl
He’s Just Not That Into You is a movie that revolves around this stereotype. She lives in New York City, LA, or San Francisco, and she’s been watching her friends get into serious relationships for a while now. She’s almost 30, so she’s freaking out that she will never find “the one.” This female stereotype is desperate for a date, although casual dating never seems to work out for her. The image of Ginnifer Goodwin waiting anxiously next to her phone is the perfect portrayal of this stereotype. The problem is that women aren’t waiting eagerly next to the phone for their date to call. Where is the movie where the female lead controls her own future and asks the guy out herself?
It’s your move, Hollywood.