Margot Magowan is a writer and commentator. Her articles on politics and culture have been in Salon, Glamour, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous other newspapers and online sites. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Fox News, and other TV and radio programs. For many years, Margot worked as talk radio producer creating top-rated programs. In 1998, Margot co-founded the Woodhull Institute an organization that trains young women to be leaders and change agents. Margot’s short story “Light Me Up” is featured in the anthology Sugar In My Bowl (Ecco 2011) and she is currently writing a Middle Grade novel about the fairyworld. Margot lives with her husband and their three daughters in San Francisco.
About Reel Girl:
Reel Girl was founded in December 2009. Reel Girl posts have also been featured on, written about, or linked to major sites around the web including The Week (best opinion), Jezebel, Shakesville, Blogher (Spotlight Blogger), Forbes.com, Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Adweek, Ms., Bitch (best posts of the internet), SFGate, Common Sense Media, and many more.
Reel Girl’s mission is to imagine gender equality in the fantasy world.
Reel Girl’s banner was created by the artist Cynthia Rodgers AKA Theamat (who did the Wonder Woman pic “If I don’t get pants, nobody gets pants“) Reel Girl’s face is based on these pics of my three daughters.
Theamat used Lucy’s intense eyes,
Alice’s speck of a smile,
and Rose’s wild curls.
More about Reel Girl:
“A truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans.” -Henning Mankell
We’re a storytelling species. The stories that we tell make us who we are. If you ever doubt the power of narratives to shape our lives, beliefs, and values, take a look at one of the most popular historical novels of all time, the Bible, and how it has influenced us. Fiction creates reality and reality creates fiction in an endless loop.
I have three daughters, and I started Reel Girl because, as I read to my kids and saw movies and watched TV and played with toys, I became aware of how heroic female characters are left out of so many narratives. When females are allowed in, they’re often stereotyped. The lack of visible, heroic females in the real and imaginary world sells kids short, affecting who they are and who they will become. I think it’s horrible that the so called imaginary world is so sexist and limited.
Most of the time, I don’t think there’s a conscious sexist conspiracy going on. I just think that for thousands of years women have been living in stories written by men. That’s just warped. I believe that women and girls have got to be the ones to tell our own stories. No one else can do it for us. I’d like women to be writing more, creating more art, making more movies, TV shows, games, and toys for imaginary play. I’d like more women to get much higher up in the power structure so that their stories can get out to influence many more people than they currently are.
I’d like to see these stats change radically:
Only 16% of protagonists in film are female.
Between 1937 and 2005 there were only 13 female protagonists in animated movies.
The female characters in G rated movies are just as likely to wear revealing clothing as in R rated movies.
Women make up 8% of all writers of major motion pictures.
Women are 17% of all executive producers
Women are 7% of film directors
Women are 2% of all cinematographers
Women and girls are the subject of less than 20% of news stories.
Women make up 14% of all guest appearances on the influential Sunday television talk shows; among repeat guests, only 7% are women.
Only 15% of the authors on the The New York Times best seller list for nonfiction are women.
Only about 20% of op-eds in America’s newspapers are by women.
Women hold only 15.2% of seats on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.
Only 7.5% of the major earners at those Fortune 500 companies are female.
Only 3% of advertising’s creative directors are women.
Women are just 19% of partners in law firms.
Women represent 17% of the United States Congress.
There are currently only six female governors.
Throughout our history only four women have held the office of Supreme Court Justice.
There has never been a female President of the United States.
One more reason I started Reel Girl– our movie rating system, and the values associated with that rating system, is totally messed up. So many G movies perpetuate the absolute worst kinds of gender stereotypes, yet they are supposedly “for kids.” In my opinion, this kind of repetitive imagery is way more dangerous for children than hearing the word “shit.”
So Reel Girl’s rating system is S for stereotype and H for heroine, 1- 3 possible.
HHH A film, book, TV show, or game with an HHH features a strong, female protagonist. (Spirited Away, Coraline, The Golden Compass)
HH Features strong female characters. (Secret of Kells, Cat in Paris, Wreck it Ralph)
H Features a strong female character but not nearly enough of her or them, and may perpetuate sexism in the plot or some other ways as well.
S Gender stereotyping
SS Mostly gender stereotyping
SSS Watching this movie is a lesson in how to gender stereotype.
If you have recommendations for Reel Girl for books, movies, TV, or products that promote strong girls and gender equality, I want to hear about them! Please go to Reader Recs in categories and leave your comments there. I will add them to Reel Girl’s to read and watch and play with list. If you are looking for Reel Girl’s recommendations go to the following categories: Reel Girl Recommends, Most Heroines (formerly GGG) and Cool and Radical Girls.