Amalia Walker sees women in film still being placed into male-focused leads, but thinks perhaps screen-writers need to dedicate stronger roles to them in general.


Recently I was watching the classic Tracy/Hepburn movie Adam’s Rib.

(Here’s the trailer…)

Made in 1949, it’s about two lawyers whose marriage is put to the test when they find themselves involved in the same court case representing opposite sides – Hepburn for the woman accused of attempted murder and Tracy for the man who was shot. As expected, it turns into a classic “battle of the sexes” flick. The couple is constantly in dispute over whether they should approach the case from the perspective of a repressed woman, or with regard for the current legal system.

The question at the centre of their argument is: are men and women the same?

A valid question for the time, to be sure, but Hepburn’s character tends to seek evidence in areas that demonstrate physical parallels between the opposite genders, as if a woman being able to lift the same amount of weight as a man makes them certifiably equal human beings.

Sixty-five years later and it seems we are still trying to answer that exact question in more or less the same way – specifically when it comes to women in film.

Over time, the trend has been to place women in men’s roles, making them more masculine the more powerful their character is. Meanwhile, the more feminine roles for women in film remain utterly underdeveloped, and in comedy, are still being made fun of in ways that are both degrading and simply not funny.

You don’t have to be a cinema junkie to know that studios have been producing the same sort of movie for a while now. Rather than making a film about a female superhero (long overdue), they’ll adapt comics like Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy – films that feature mostly male characters with maybe one or two supporting women just to sweeten the pot.

You’ll also notice that when a woman isn’t capable of kicking ass—like Freida Pinto’s character in Rise of the Planet of the Apes—they have virtually no dialogue. In fact, they’re barely even in the film.

It begs the question: why should women try to beat the men at their own game when they are still being either undersold or placed in supporting roles? Shouldn’t the attention go towards developing stronger feminine characters rather than making men and women the same?

Every once in a while, I’d like to come out of a movie theatre without feeling like I have to buy a tight-fitting outfit and kick ass all the time, just for a chance at being in a box office hit (like that’s the only possible formula for money-making).

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