Tag Archives: statistics

Women in Pictures: The Scary Truth about Women in Today’s Media

women“Today is National Women’s Day!” That’s how MeLissa greeted me this morning. “Hooray!!” was my first thought but as the idea began to process I wondered, what does that even mean? We should do something to celebrate, of course, but how? Intent has always included messages of feminism and sisterhood on the blog and via intents, but a lot of places don’t.

MeLissa and I recently attended a workshop for women with an interest in directing and we learned some startling statistics about the representation of women in media. The following facts come from the Geena Davis Institute  on Gender in Media which conducts various studies on the position of women in film and media.

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
  • Crowd scenes in film and television are 17% female on average, despite women representing 51% of the world population.
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.

No wonder women need a day to be celebrated. Part of the reason feminism is still a thing is because of statistics like this. When the images our children and the general public are confronted with are women in secondary roles or as sexual objects it becomes ingrained for women to aspire to these positions and for society to treat them as such. To start seeing a change we have to start portraying the change. It’s as simple as screenwriters adding “must be half-female” into their scripts when writing a crowd scene. Last year the number one selling movie worldwide was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and it was the first time in more than 40 years that a movie with a female lead topped the annual box office.

Luckily, there are many women leading the fight to change the way media portrays (or fails to portray) women in film and television. Last weekend Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award for her portrayal of a depressed woman trying to stay afloat in her own life in Blue Jasmine. When accepting the award she said this, “To the few in this industry that are still clinging to the idea that films with women at the center are niche – they are not. People want to see them and they make money. The world is round, people.” Case in point: Blue Jasmine, Bridesmaids, The Heat. When Lupita Nyong’o gave her speech for her Best Supporting Actress award she also said, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child that your dreams are valid!” On the surface it is such an inspiring statement, but what it really depicts is the sad truth that there are many children whose dreams are diminished by mainstream media’s backward policies on gender, race and sexuality.

Emma Thompson has also announced that she’ll be spending 2014 making a documentary about women in film because she’s disgusted with the way things currently are.

While it’s inspiring to know there are so many professional women fighting to make a difference in women’s opportunities both on screen and behind the lens – these numbers are scary. Not only to myself and MeLissa who are aspiring screenwriters but to the world in general. Do I want my future daughters to watch cartoons where all the girl characters are still sex objects? I want to be able to name pop culture examples of women that have been in charge because of a combination of their intellect, compassion and beauty rather than how great she looks in a pencil skirt. I want my daughter to inherit a media landscape where Kathryn Bigelow isn’t the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for directing.

The numbers are changing, so we’re being told, but it isn’t happening soon enough – especially if some of them haven’t changed since the 40s. Today is National Women’s Day but every day should be cause for us to stand up and support each other and create a more viable place for women in media and film. Our stories deserve to be told, to be validated as much as our male counterparts. We have to keep up the good fight so can stop differentiating between “men” and “women” stories and instead train ourselves and the world to see them all as what they really are – human stories.

Is There Any Truth to Astrology?

You may be surprised to hear that for many years Deepak Chopra did not believe in astrology. He has written so much on the wisdom and power of the Universe, but nonetheless saw little validity in the analyzing of horoscopes and the influences of planetary alignments. That all changed, though, when Deepak started researching Vedic astrology, a “profound and mathematically sophisticated form of astrology that originated in the ancient Vedic tradition of India.” (You can learn more about Vedic astrology, or Jyotish, on the Chopra Center website.)

The aspect of Vedic astrology that first inspired Deepak to change his views was the microcosm-macrocosm relationship. Vedic teachings, he says in the “Ask Deepak” episode on Astrology, start from the premise that the micro mirrors the macro, and vice versa. Essentially, the entire cosmos is a magnified version of the immediate and observable realities we witness. By that assumption, Deepak continues, it is possible to derive compelling insights about our lives from by analyzing planetary patterns, using mathematical principles.

“One can calculate the statistical likelihood of future space-time events based on the probabilities and the probability amplitudes that are dictated by the specific location and time of your birth.”Bracken House - London

Because Universal consciousness is non-local, and we are all expressions of this consciousness, “life is a story of probability events” played out both in the microcosm and the macrocosm.

What do you think? Have you ever had an astrological reading? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga!

Homelessness By The Numbers

Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a person who you thought was homeless.  I can see that all hands are up!

I’ll be 61 years old this week and when I was young, the situation was not as it is now.  In my youth, the vast majority of people who were homeless were men. There were very few women and even less children who were homeless. 

In the old days, we called those homeless men words like, "hobos" or worse.  We envisioned them "riding the rails," jumping on and off railroad freight cars and living a life that they chose, free of cares and woes.  At that time, the homeless life was romanticized and movies were made, such as "Emperor of the North" staring Lee Marvin, which depicted homeless men enjoying life to the fullest without any reflection on their possible responsibilities to society.

Today, this is not the picture of homelessness.  In my experience, I have found:

            • 40% of the people who are homeless are women and children.  There are no happy movies about their lifestyles, in fact, barely anyone is talking about their plight.  And, certainly, these women and children have not chosen to be homeless.  As if things could not get worse, the number of women and children who are becoming homeless is increasing.

            • 25% of today’s homeless people are people who have served in war, generally the Vietnam War.  I thought this number would be decreasing, but with the Iraqi War veterans returning with little or no care for their mental and physical health, it’s going to remain at the 25% level for quite some time.  The Department of Defense has found that 17% of returning Iraqi War veterans are returning with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  PTSD (formerly called "battle fatigue") is a condition that may exist for its victims from 30 to 40 years. 

            • 35% of the people I’ve found to be homeless today are men who have had a devastating negative experience of some kind. 

Where has the free lifestyle of homelessness gone?  I suggest that view that there was ever a free lifestyle that people chose to live by being homeless was a myth.  It never happened.  But, the myth provided a good storyline for movies.

What happened in sixty years?  Who are homeless people?  Why are they living outside?  Why don’t they have homes?  Oh my God, what happened?

In 2007, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released their report, "Homelessness Counts" citing:

            • 672,000 people were homeless each night in the United States (population over 300 million).

            • 3.5 million people are homeless throughout the year in the United States.

            • Nearly 160,000 people are homeless in the State of California (total population 36 million).

In their report, "2007 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count", the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA) found that in Los Angeles County (population over 10 million), California there are:

            • Over 10,000 children and teens who are homeless every night.

             • Nearly 74,000 homeless men, women and children each night in the County. 

            • Over 141,000 people experienced homelessness in Los Angeles over the course of 2006.

In "2006 Short-Term Housing Directory of Los Angeles County," Shelter Partnership determined that there are just over 17,000 shelter beds in all of the homeless shelters for the 74,000 people who are homeless every night.  Obviously, people are living "outside" because there is no room in the "inn."

            What are the causes of homelessness? 

Continue reading on The Huffington Post

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