Female Representation Within Film : The Top 100 Films Essay

Female Representation Within Film : The Top 100 Films Essay

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Current available research on women in science fiction is limited by the lack of female representation within film in general. Lauzen’s study on the portrayal of female characters in the top 100 films of 2015 reveals that female characters comprise only 22% of protagonists, and make up a total of 33% of all speaking characters (1). Furthermore, despite science fiction’s unique ability to “offer something new in terms of gender representation” (Jowett 2014, 78), the majority of existing literature on women in science fiction explore their continued “infantilisation or sexualisation” (Lupold 2014, 8). Women in science-fiction are usually reduced to stereotypes, and are predominantly the love interest of the hero, a spectacle, or a victim to be rescued, and therefore do not narrate the plot (Pennell and Behm-Morawitz 2015, 212). However, there is a recent shift towards female characters that mirror 1980s “hard-as-nails”, “masculine” heroines like Alien’s Ellen Ripley (Scott 1979) and Terminator’s Sarah Conner (Cameron 1984), who had previously been phased out by softer, sexualised “action babes”, where female heroines demonstrate qualities of masculine aggression while maintaining feminine appeal (Lupold 2014, 8). Protagonists like Katniss in The Hunger Games (Ross 2012) and Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass (Vaughn 2010) possess both masculine and feminine characteristics and represent a “shift in cultural conceptions of girlhood” (Lupold 2014, 7) towards something new.
Of the limited literature on women in science fiction, there is even less available on women in Star Wars. As a whole, the pool of literature on Star Wars is surprisingly small for a media text as old and as pervasive within popular culture. The majority of this research focuses...

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...other sex role models” (711). Furthermore, the more frequent portrayal of male characters in comparison to female characters leads to the belief in young girls that their stories are not as important as those of their male counterparts (Smith et al. 2010, 775).
Therefore, this initiative is important as the development and formation of identity in children is becoming increasingly influenced by the representations of same-sex role models in media. The prevalence of media in contemporary society is dominated by traditional and stereotypical representations of gender and beauty ideals, all of which affect children in potentially harmful ways, particularly in regards to achieving the ideal beauty. For this reason, it important to explore the effects that non-gender stereotyped same-sex role models have on the confidence of children and on the way they see themselves.

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