In this week’s Wednesday 5: A new report details the stats on how women and girls are stereotyped on screen; Bloom, a new literary site, focuses on authors whose first book was published when they were 40 or older; a call for action to improve women’s reproductive health in Nigeria; photographer Jill Peters captures fascinating portraits of women living as men to escape oppression in the Balkans; and artist Candy Chang asks us to consider the one thing we would like to do before we die.

New Report: Women and Girls Are Stereotyped, Sexualized, and Underrepresented On Screen

Women and actors of color are consistently underrepresented on the big and small screens. Perhaps you already know this as fact, or it comes as no surprise. But we thought we’d share the actual data nevertheless. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media recently released a report detailing the “stereotypes, barriers, and exploitation that still define how badly women and girls are treated on screen,” reports Mother Jones. What’s interesting about the report is that it goes beyond analyzing prime time television and also expands to children’s shows and family films. Some of the stats we found troubling:

  • 28.3% of characters in family films wearing sexy outfits are women, while 8% are men.
  • 31.5 % of characters with speaking roles in  prime-time comedies are women. 68.5 % are men.
  • 73.5% of narrators for family films are men.

Read more at Mother Jones.


“Late Bloomer?” Says Who? 

If you’ve been reading our New & Notable or our Roz Reads series, you know we take books seriously. So, we’re very excited to have just discovered a wonderful new gift for the 40-and-over crowd—just in time for the holidays. Bloom, a new literary site, is focused on authors whose first book was published when they were age 40 or older. What we particularly like is their gumption in redefining the whole idea of “late bloomer.” According to the site’s founders,

Bloom is also a community of artists and readers who believe that “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one, and who are interested in bringing to attention a wide variety of artistic paths—challenging any narrow, prevailing ideas about the pacing and timing of creative fruition.” If someone is labeled a “late bloomer,” the question Bloom poses is, “Late” according to whom?”

Check out the special features and our favorite series, Bloomers at Large—a monthly round-up of all things Blooming. 


Women’s Reproductive Health in Nigeria

“The state of reproductive health in sub Saharan Africa should concern everyone,” writes Temie Giwa for the YNaija blog.  In a recent blog post, she recounts the death of a 40-year-old Nigerian woman, Zulai Buhari, in childbirth. “It is a major tragedy,” she says, “but it has helped to start a conversation on the state of maternal health in Nigeria.” Naija is outraged and concerned about the staggering number of deaths during and right after childbirth in Nigeria. While 52,900 lose their lives as a result of childbirth in Nigeria, consider that there have been zero maternal deaths in Sweden between 2006 and 2011. Naija believes that the Nigerian government has the resources and knowledge to stymie these deaths, but doing so will call for “a change of commitment and it [will start] with families saying no to burying their mothers.”

Read more at YNaija.


Fascinating Portraits of Women Living as Men to Escape Oppression in the Balkans

In the 2012 film Albert Nobbs, Glen Close impressively portrays “Albert,” a woman living as a man for 30 years in order to find and keep work as a hotel waiter in the harsh, and often sexually violent, environment of 19th-century Ireland. Albert’s character reveals later in the film that it was after being brutally gang-raped that she decided to masquerade as a man. Photographer Jill Peters has now taken up the subject of women passing for men in her series, Sworn Virgins of Albania—fascinating portraits of women living as men to escape oppression in the Balkans. According to Peters:

“Sworn Virgin” is the term given to a biological female in the Balkans who is chosen to take on the social identity of a man for life . . . Becoming a  “Sworn Virgin,” or “burnesha,” elevated a woman to the status of a man and granted her all the rights and privileges of the male population.

View these incredible portraits at Feature Shoot.


Before I Die. . .

And in another weekly dose of inspiration, we turn to the women of TED, that limitless hub of “ideas worth spreading.” In this video, artist Candy Chang talks about her project Before I Die, where she “transformed an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans into an interactive wall for people to share their hopes and dreams.” Why does she choose to focus on death? It is “something that we’re often discouraged to talk about or even think about,” says Chang in her TED Talk,  “but I’ve realized that preparing for death is one of the most empowering things you can do. Thinking about death clarifies your life.”

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