News-clipping; Melissa Harris-Perry opts for information instead of sensation

Melissa Harris-Perry and panel take a refreshingly informed and respectful stance to an incident much exploited by others in the media.


New Research: Only 30.9% of all speaking characters on-screen are female

For films made cooperatively between the US and the UK, that number falls to 23.6%.  These are the findings of the latest research from The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which compared visibility and representations of women in mainstream films globally.

“Research reveals that the percentage of female speaking characters in top-grossing movies has not
meaningfully changed in roughly a half of a century.”

-Smith, Choueiti, & Pieper (2014) Executive summary: Gender Bias Without Borders

The research examined G, PG and PG-13 movies from the United States and equivalent movies from the 10 most profitable countries internationally as reported by the Movie Picture Association of America, all with a theatrical release date between January 1st 2010 and May 1st 2013. Taking into account the success of US and UK film collaboration, an additional sample of these US/UK hybrid films was created.

120 global films were examined. Every named or speaking character (one or more words, discernibly uttered on-screen) was evaluated for “demographics, sexualization, occupation and STEM careers”. Read the report and considering sharing the following infographic from the Institute’s website and following @GDIGM on Twitter and Facebook.

Readers with an interest in the representation of women in mainstream media may also be interested in the documentary film, Miss Representation.

Sexual Assault on Public Transport

Sexual assault on public transportation is a prominent issue, though there is considerable evidence to suggest that the majority of instances are not reported. Recently two South American countries have been in the news on this issue.

The first story can be read here: Can Undercover Cops End Sexual Assault on Public Transportation?

That story comes via Slate and Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo.

The launch of the small task force in Bogotá, Columbia, gave rise to a variety of reactions with some commentators questioning just what constitutes sexual assault in crowded conditions where physical contact of some kind may be inevitable. According the Miami Herald however, the officers “said they’re looking for more clear-cut cases — when there’s intentional grabbing and groping.”

The operatives are predominantly, though not exclusively, female and this has cause some to question how ethical the small-scale operation is and whether officers are being used as ‘bait’ or a form of entrapment. Entrapment requires an officer induce a person to commit an offence that they would otherwise not have committed. An officer’s physical appearance or simply being female, hardly constitutes inducement to commit a sexual assault. In addition, Bogotá’s police force has highly publicized the operation in attempt to deter such behaviours by forewarning potential perpetrators that there may be legal consequences for their action.

Neighbouring country Peru recently considered a similar operation, but abandoned the idea a short time later, fearing that it would subject their female officers to undue risk. Head of the Terna Group police force, Jañovi Chuquiyanqui reportedly stated that, “No lady of any profession or occupation should be touched.” Chuquiyanqui also said that he remains committed to tackling the issue.

For more information on this topic in general, I suggest this article by Ann Friedman, which also highlights some interesting socio-economic factors.