Feautred Image credit to Screen Queens
I talked to my friend Chloë Leeson about the feminist-film website she started, Screen Queens, and she divulged the inequalities shown throughout the film industry and how her, and a fantastic team of contributors, are trying to combat it and bring awareness to media! -Kiya
I probably started properly educating myself about feminism in 2012 and I’ve always loved films, the two came together in a blog called grrls-on-film (that I’ve now taken down) that was just me rambling about cinema and cool ladies. due to college work though it was rarely updated and drifted off into the background. After seeing all these other girls starting up their own zines/blogs I started toying around with the idea of a collaborative project rather, it wasn’t till i seen a stat that said 84% of all film critics are males that I actually decided to get anything done.
I’d searched for a while for feminist film blogs and never really felt ‘welcomed’ by the few things I found, they just didn’t seem fun enough. So I asked around tumblr and gathered a team of about 15 I think it was initially. We’ve gained a fair amount of contributors since then too. The idea of having a big team (and still wanting more!) was simply because of diversity, I didn’t just want me as a cis white woman speaking about prejudices’ within film, considering the fact I hardly have a degree in the subject. All I wanted was to create a platform for other women to speak their opinions, the subject matter is completely wide open and I haven’t turned a post proposal down yet. When looking for potential contributors I also don’t really care about past writing experience like some other places might, if you have a passion for it that’s all that matters. Collecting a big team allows us to learn from each other (we communicate via facebook group) and post more content than we could if there was only a few of us. It also means you get to learn about really cool films you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise!
The blog posts everything and anything for standard reviews to mixes, feminist criticism, roundtables, stream of consciousness’ and also wants to provide a platform for budding women film-makers and showcasing their work/speaking to them about it (for any inquiries about becoming a contributor/showcasing work, people should email firstname.lastname@example.org)
The female film-makers thing is a new idea that we’ve only had two submissions for so far and are definitely looking for more! I think that the portrayal of women on camera is only going to change when the ratio of women working behind the scenes changes. As an average film watcher to name 5 women directors and they’ll find it pretty hard to get past Kathryn Bigelow & Sofia Coppola. 3% of creative directors are women which means that the 97% that are men are controlling how women are presented, considering they make up half of the population. Women are shown to be one dimensional objects in many many films, and while i don’t find the Bechdel test a reliable source for how feminist a film is, it is interesting to note how man don’t pass. The recent surge in ‘strong’ female characters isn’t hugely helpful either. Male directors seem to think that the issue of sexism in film can be solved by putting a machete in a girls hand giving her a short skirt and making her call everyone a ‘pussy’ (think Sucker Punch ladies, Hit Girl from Kick Ass), whilst I personally adore these films and film them empowering I know there’s a lot of ladies who don’t. We need more multidimensional and real women on screen. Women of colour, disabled women, LGBTQIAP women and trans* women (which Orange is the New Black seems to be getting a good head start on yay)
I also think there can be lots of confusion when it comes to women on and behind the screen, for instance actresses’ problematic behavior (JLaw looking at you) and denial of feminism (Shailene Woodleys recent TIME interview for example) Screen Queens doesn’t want to just look at films in the general sense, I literally want to pick apart every single aspect of the cinema experience, the marketing, what was said at a premiere, the film itself, its director just EVERYTHING. the whole cinematic experience is just very precious to me and something I want to push onto other people (in the most non-annoying way possible hopefully). We don’t intend to condemn popular cinema either, you can enjoy problematic things as long as you acknowledge they are and call them out in hope for the future. I mean, what media would we enjoy if we couldn’t like problematic things? I for one bloody love the first Twilight movie, the entire team probably has their fair share of trashy movie faves. The blog is a celebration of film and pop culture and we are just gals trying to get our voice heard in a place that’s largely dominated by guys and create a safe space for people to enjoy it with us