Posted by: laurakoepsell | March 28, 2014

Cate Blanchett’s Oscar’s speech and Women in the Movie Business






 came across this gif series on tumblr the other day from Cate Blanchett’s acceptance speech at the Oscar’s for winning the Best Leading Actress. It was out of the ordinary for an oscar acceptance speech to bring up gender roles, but Cate Blanchett did so without hesitation. This made me think about how little actresses bring up the gender issue with movies. Not only that there are few movies revolving around a female lead, but also that these movies rarely involve the woman being strong, or heroic. In order to get more people to to acknowledge that there is a problem with women in the movie industry (acting and directing), should famous actresses take it upon themselves to bring this topic up more regularly? 

It reminds me of the Director guest speaker that came into class last week. She notices that it is hard for women to get into this business, and explained that she liked to hire women for her films because women need to stick together and help each other out. Because Directors aren’t as well known in the movie world as actors, would the actresses taking note of this gender gap help actresses and the directors?

I ask of you all, do you think that women actresses should feel responsible to bring up the lack of women in leading women roles, and the false stigma that follows women led roles? Should they also be promoting women directors and behind-the-scenes individuals? Do you think it would hurt the actress’s following if she decided to speak out on this issue? Would it even make a difference in the movie world?


  1. I think that there are significant double standards here regarding women in film. Yes, there are plenty of women both on and off screen, but not nearly as many main roles portrayed by women as many people would hope to see. I think that women, such as Cate Blanchett, bringing up this issue opens up society’s eyes to the fact that Hollywood is significantly male dominated. However, since we all know it as male dominated, it is going to be extremely difficult to try to convince society otherwise. I personally think that one of the main reasons media doesn’t always portray women in leading roles is due to the whole “hero/macho” aspect that we receive from male actors. Women are always overly sexualized and objectified that it would be difficult to have a plethora of women taking over the big screen. However, I don’t think it is impossible to do! There have been plenty of female successful actresses, but I think that only hiring female casts and crews, such as our guest speaker did, is only going to do more harm than good.

  2. To answer your first question, I think that yes, famous actresses should take it upon themselves to bring this topic up more regularly. This is because, like you said, “It was out of the ordinary for an Oscar acceptance speech to bring up gender roles.” If more well-known actors and actresses actually bring up the topic of women in leadership in the film industry, then hopefully it someday will not be so unusual for us to see more women directors and filmmakers and, therefore, it won’t even be necessary to discuss. Of course, though, this is only wishful thinking. ☺
    Secondly, I honestly do not think that it would hurt for actresses to take note of the gender gap between men and women in the movie industry, and that there is a good chance that it could help actresses and the directors. Since there aren’t that many women leaders in this field to begin with, what do we really have to lose? Might as well try it!
    I do believe that it would be beneficial and an effective tool for actresses to recognize the lack of women in leading movie roles, etc. and make viewers aware of this as well. However, I do not necessarily think that it is particularly any actress’ duty or responsibility per se to address this issue to their audience. If an actress is passionate about seeing the social norms regarding gender in the movie business change, then she will definitely make a point to share her opinion to the media. But, if an actress is not as concerned about the issue, then pressuring her to talk about it publicly would not be beneficial since it would be more of a ‘forced’ speech, rather than a genuine one.

  3. I understand the view point of my classmates, but I do not necessarily believe that it is always helpful to point out the gender gap. In some cases, I believe, putting emphasis on the gap may just make the gap bigger. I would think that as more women push through, without highlighting that it is a big deal, the more normal it will become. I see the advantages of women highlighting the gap and showing their success through it, but over time it might just create even more separation. The separation may be more equal than it is now, but still it is a separation.

  4. The fact that Cate Blanchett spoke out about the issue in the first place shows that actresses do realize that a gender inconsistency exists within movie roles. I definitely think that females in the movie business realize that their characters tend to be more confined than male ones. However, I also think that the reason many choose not to speak out about it is because they know that auditioning for traditionally female roles is what will end up getting them paid. I think actresses are fully aware of this gender gap, but they also may feel that if they don’t buy into it, then they will be out of work. I think many actresses may be afraid to speak out for fear that it won’t land them any roles at all. After all, society loves to see a male lead rescuing a female damsel in distress. Even though it’s wrong, it’s also what sells. This is why I commend Blanchett for speaking out about the issue. I do think more female actresses should feel responsible for putting the issue up on the forefront. Speaking out is sometimes the only way to ignite change. However, I’m also not sure how much change it will actually produce. Directors try to make films that they know the public will like and that will bring a lot of money in. Unfortunately, a lot of these major films are action ones with male leads. I definitely think that having more female directors and producers will allow for more female thoughts and actresses to be put into the limelight. However, at the end of the day, it really just depends on what sells the most money these days. Until society’s views change about what film genres are considered most popular and “Oscar-worthy,” I don’t know if we will be able to see a real significant change in female lead roles.

  5. I definitely think that all women in all fields of work should be supporting one another. That is one thing I loved about the director came to speak to us the other day because she said that she always hires women to work with her. She doesn’t do this because they are her favorite people in the world, she does this because she feels like she needs to support other women. And I totally agree with that concept, if I was in her position I would do the same for other women. It’s definitely a great solution to the issue. Instead of women pulling each other down, we won’t get anywhere in this women and leadership issue if we don’t support each other and work to build ourselves us. This is especially true in film because there are so many different departments needed to make a film, and so many qualified women who are struggling to get into these positions. We need to encourage women to both be interested in these technological positions while also having the confidence to go after these types of jobs.

  6. This whole topic is extremely interesting to me because before this class I never even considered there to be a gender gap in movies. To me, all movies have a male and a female. I watch so many chick flicks that normally the women is the starring lead. I also grew up on The Parent Trap and those girls definitely were not typically feminine. However, those aren’t exactly women empowering movies; they normally center around some guy…anyway, my point was, I had no idea this was even an issue.

    Which brings me to answering your question. I agree with both sides that my classmate present. I don’t think it’s always a good idea to bring up the gender issue; it can just make the gender gap even bigger like Jessica C. said. But at the same time, women should definitely be supporting each other and letting the world know that they are a force to be reckoned with, and that can’t be done if the issue is swept under the rug. I think it’s all about finding the right balance of supporting women and letting people know that there needs to be a change, without making it a huge deal.

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