LOS ANGELES – Movies and TV shows about female sexuality and feminism are taking over our screens, most recently with “How to Be Single.” Scripts with a strong female lead are said to support feminism, but how far is too far when the women are portrayed in a sexually promiscuous light?
With movies like “Trainwreck,” and shows like “Girls,” “Broad City,” and “Inside Amy Schumer,” Katie Yoder, a fellow at the Media Research Center, believes the message being sent by Hollywood about feminism is the wrong one.
“The feminist movement claims to be about empowering women to pursue the lives they want to lead,” she explained. “Instead, Hollywood smears women on the big screen by defining them as sex objects whose value comes from being raunchy, crass and naked.”
However, Lisa Durden, pop culture guru, thinks it’s only fair for women to express their sexual freedom as men do in the movies.
“Sexual choice is the ultimate in women's feminism, which is what shows like ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ [are] portraying,” she said. “In the words of the late, great, Luther Vandross: ‘It’s Never Too Much’ in Hollywood.’”
But pop culture expert Cate Meighan fears Hollywood is unable to focus on what feminism actually is.
“Feminism at root is more about equality and strength in all areas,” she said. “I think by making female lead characters overtly sexual without making them strong in other areas is most certainly sending the wrong message, especially to younger audiences.”
Lesley Kinzel, editor at xoJane, a women’s online magazine, said sexual promiscuous roles are not the problem.
“The portrayal of some female characters as ‘sexually promiscuous’ is not itself the problem, the problem is that so many of these portrayals happen in the context of shallow stereotypes in which women themselves have no input or control,” she explained. "’Trainwreck,’ ‘Inside Amy Schumer,’ ‘Girls,’ and ‘Broad City,’ are all media partly or chiefly created and written by women speaking from their own experience, and controlling their own representation. These examples are not reinforcing stereotypes, they are breaking them, by giving actual women power to portray the depth and complexity of their real-life experiences.”
Ultimately, Yoder notes that if Hollywood really is diverse they have to show that in the types of women that are portrayed on screen.
“If Hollywood stands for diversity-- if Hollywood stands for all women-- then it needs to include all female voices,” she said. “It needs to include women that can be classy without being crude; women who adhere to values and human dignity – maybe even ones who pray. Right now, Hollywood sends the message that only one kind of woman exists. One kind of woman is valued.”