Post-MeToo: How has the presentation of women changed (hopefully for the better)?

The MeToo movement took both Hollywood and the world by storm in 2017. Originally a phrase used in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, and became mainstream in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano began a twitter trend with the #MeToo. The movement began a ripple effect of both women and men coming forward to speak of their experiences of sexual assault and harassment. However, over three years on from the wake of MeToo, how has the presentation of women changed? And has this been for the better?

For women in the film industry, crucial changes have been seen through the development of better treatment in the workplace. The Times Up Organisation is one of the most prominent outcomes of MeToo, aiming to create a safer environment for all women, for example providing support lines and advice for shooting sex scenes. Women are now significantly more represented, and the effects of this can be seen.

Actress Keira Knightley has recently been in the news for ruling out sex scenes directed by men, stating that “It’s partly vanity and also it’s the male gaze.” MeToo has allowed women to speak out about what makes them uncomfortable, giving them a voice without the risk of ruining their careers. Times Up also led to the drawing up of anti-sexual harassment guidelines, the first production to adopt the plan being Wonder Woman 1984, directed by Patty Jenkins.

Women are also being presented in film through better roles and equally better opportunities behind the camera. A study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 10.6% of directors of 2019’s 100 highest grossing films were women, this was 4.5% in 2018. 2019 saw the release of Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig, and in 2020 Wonder Woman 1984. 2021 is going to be no exception, with more female directors on the rise (keep your eye out for the release of Black Widow, The World To Come and Candyman).

So yes, the presentation of women is slowly changing in both the opportunities they have, and the ways they are treated in the workplace. And this is for the better. However, this is not to say that there aren’t still changes to be made. Red carpet ceremonies still lack in their representation of women, with only five women ever being nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, and only one ever winning. It is going to take a huge shift in ideologies, and probably a number of years before we can truly say that the full effects of MeToo can be felt in Hollywood.

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Sophie Colley

April 2021
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