Newt In A Tea Cup

{January 27, 2007}   I used to want to be a scriptwriter…

I believe in the power of stories to not only create worlds but reinforce our own. I believe that fiction has been a more constant force throughout peoplehood’s history than science has been. I also believe that a lot of the dissonance between religious myths and scientific fact has more to do with people wanting the story. I’m not saying they can’t go together- I’m saying that there are are two different brush strokes used to make those subjects and without a clever artist who understands both mediums the canvas breaks. Metaphysical world is not the physical.

I also believe that film is the medium through which our modern Odysseus and Achilles battle it out.

Nothing changes does it?

Of the current top ten films all of them are directed by men. There is only one woman who co-authored one film.

Here are some more facts:

# Nineteen percent (19%) of films released in 2005 employed no women directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers or editors.
– Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report

# Women accounted for only 7% of directors in 2005, representing a decline of 4 percentage points as compared with 11% in 2000.
– Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report

# A comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2005 and 1998 shows that the percentages of women directors, writers, executive producers, and cinematographers have declined, while the percentage of women producers has increased.
– Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report

# Women working behind the scenes influenced the number of on-screen women. When a program had no female creators, females accounted for 40% of all characters. However, when a program employed at least one woman creator, females comprised 45% of all characters.
– Boxed In: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in the 2003-04 Prime-time Season, by Martha Lauzen

# In Academy Award history, only three female filmmakers have been nominated for best director award (Lina Wertmuller in 1977, Jane Campion in 1994, and Sofia Coppola in 2004), but none have won.
– Women’s E-News

It’s important to choose your battles. I decided not to pursue script writing because I don’t have the energy to break through such a marble ceiling. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to write – I will. Hopefully I will be able to write successful books with crisp cover and themes that people care about. Maybe I will write a script one day.

But most of all I want to write women.

Because most of the women I read about or nothing like women I live and hear or want to hear about.

I want to write women that are ambitious and ruthless without wearing a power, leather type suit and being evil.

I want to write women who don’t need to be saved by a guy to cement the love interest (because he always needs that hint of superiority doesn’t he?). I want to write women that don’t even have to pine for a guy to be considered rounded.

I want women who get PMS and cramps, women who have greasy hair and pimples and hangnails and don’t get a makeover but are still cool.

I want women that fight crime in a comfortable jogging suit and trainers, with a realistic muscular build and hair cut short so it won’t get in the way.

I want women to be involved in social issues and to be the heroes of my own film noire, detective novel, without being as perky as Nancy Drew.

I want a woman who is empowered through her intelligence and compassion and love not her body and who isn’t considered a pushover.

I want women who aren’t thought of as bodies and types first.

Because people tend to write best about what they know, in an overwhelmingly male domain women tend to be badly presented. Some men do write fantastic female characters and perspectives and that is where the gift of empathy comes in. But a lot of the time those female characters are moulded as the supporting role.

There is a degree of wish-fulfilment in fiction. Men write about the type of men they want to be and the type of women they want to be with. Titular characters are often male because men have the prerogative of getting on and saving the world without the expectations of looking like a shop-window mannequin whilst doing it. Men’s life’s are limited by stereotypes but they are active stereotypes with a wide range of interests.

Which goes a way towards explaining why girls will read about boy’s lives but boy’s won’t read about girl’s.

Because here’s a little truth – the stereotype of what interests and consists of femininity can be really, really boring.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t deserve exposition- in fact there are many great novels that explore that issue and lives restrained by that- but that women are more than a pink apron or high heels and lipstick.

But, hey! It’d be nice if a woman-like-me could save the world for once.


Professor Fifi Trixibell says:

Interesting stats but not surprising at all. I think that considering those stats, it’s no wonder that the world is turning into one big male wish-fulfilment reality film/tv show.

The film industry sounds like one big metaphor for the world – the women look good and get told what to do, the men script and control it all.

And yes, realisitic heroines would be nice, with no eyeliner or breast implants – that would be a good start.

well women in any of the positions of power does not (alas) mean stronger roles for women, casting of women for acting talent rather than age or looks or anything else desirable i can think of. i wouldn’t let your sex put you off wanting to write scripts – the men who try to do it have a pretty shitty time of it as well – let’s create equality by treating everyone like dirt. no – certainly not arguing it’s as easy for a woman to succeed as a man (otherwise there’d be loads of successful female screenwriters). however in production there are some more powerful and talented female figures: sally hibbin and andrea calderwood (who produced last king of scotland) are shining examples (and pretty fucking good human beings too, it seems). not enough, but one area where women are less invisible than others might be a good place to exploit the breach able, successful women have made in that particular wall. funnily there are loads of female casting directors (pretty sure a majority) and female producers of commercials outnumber men many times over – sadly i think this reflects that, rather than generally being the director’s boss as in feature films, in commercials, the directors are firmly in charge.

tcupnewt says:

Yes, sometimes women can internalise and buy into the rubbish. Not necessarily consciously but the result is the same- not much changes. I know that this can only be solved through more efforts put in that area and yet I don’t have the energy for that specific battle. 😦 However the names you have cited do show that there are people standing their ground. The whole industry has got serious control/power freak issues and for all it’s liberal posturing is surprisingly antiquated.

ehj2 says:

dear tcupnewt,

i know you already know this but i’ll risk politely reminding you in the context of a compliment: the world is saved now the way it was always saved, not all at once but one aware person at a time.

you’re a light. wandering over here and finding you (from simplywondered’s site) has made my day.

i love your writing, but i love the “you” behind your writing even more. as has always been true, if there’s even one of you out there, then all will be well.

you have mastery of your tools, there’s no denying you’re a writer. but what really matters in every moment is that your spirit is off the scale.

write what you want. nurture your incandescence. your words will ring out there forever. that’s what they do.

tcupnewt says:


Wow. I’m not sure what to say. You are, of course, completely right. Society is made of individuals and it’s easy to forget that in the midst of such a crushing flow.

I’m glad to make your day and this positive response has made mine. I don’t think I’m doing anything remarkable, maybe I give myself permission to care more, but if I(!) am giving some hope then there must be plenty more of that out there. Sometimes I find it hard to see- thankyou for reminding me.

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