Characters like Katniss Everdeen are changing girlhood and challenging tired stereotypes by not waiting for some guy to save the day: They’re saving themselves and their worlds, too. Yet Katniss, her screen sisters and the industry have a very long way to go. In one study the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media looked at 5,554 “distinct speaking characters” in 122 family movies rated G, PG or PG-13 that were released between 2006 and 2009. The institute discovered that only 29.2 percent of those roles were female, while a whopping 70.8 percent were male. In other words, there were 2.42 male characters for every female one. Put another way, there was Harry and Ron and then there was Hermione, the smartest girl in the class. Hermione ruled, but not nearly enough.
And now, Brooks Barnes is telling us that women are saving the world too:
Saving the world, and also starting to take parts of it over:
“Sex and the City 2” wilted — no gender expansion, partly because it was a terrible movie — but turnout for the second “Twilight” movie was surprisingly balanced between male and female ticket buyers, and the grosses grew accordingly. The second chapter, “New Moon,” took in $788.3 million, 81 percent more than the first one. Maybe that old theory about men avoiding “girl” movies needed to be retired? Maybe moviegoing was starting to reflect a shifting definition of masculinity? (This was the dawn of the era of “manscaping,” after all.) And what about changing female tastes in entertainment?
I wrote about Girl Tricksters some time ago for the New Yorker:
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series have given us female tricksters, women who are quick-witted, fleet-footed, and resolutely brave. Like their male counterparts—Coyote, Anansi, Raven, Rabbit, Hermes, Loki, and all those other mercurial survivors—these women are often famished (bulimic binges are their update on the mythical figure’s ravenous appetite), but also driven by mysterious cravings that make them appealingly enigmatic. Surrounded by predators, they quickly develop survival skills; they cross boundaries, challenge property rights, and outwit all who see them as easy prey. But, unlike their male analogues, they are not just cleverly resourceful and determined to survive. They’re also committed to social causes and political change.