courtesy of the dollhouse collective website
Image via the Dollhouse Collective.

The Dollhouse Collective is a new production company that was made by women, for women. Actress Rose Byrne and her fellow Aussies –Gracie Otto, Krew Boylan, Shannon Murphy, and Jessica Carrera — are carving their own path in the film industry. The Dollhouse Collective offers a promising avenue that would allow women to better represent themselves in movies.

The film industry is one that is severely lacking in women, both on and off the screen. In the top 250 films of 2012, women made up 9% of the directors, 15% of the writers, 17% of the executive producers, 25% of the producers, 20% of the editors, and only 2% of the cinematographers. With filmmakers like Byrne and the rest of her production company, those demographics could change — which is something that is direly needed.

In modern popular film theory, many believe that the lack of women behind the camera has led to the rise of “the male gaze.” This particular phrase was coined In 1975 by Laura Mulvey, who insisted that the men who are usually in control of the camera objectify women. The male gaze places the audience in the perspective of a heterosexual man. Because of this, women are portrayed in two different ways: either as an object for the viewing pleasure of the characters in the film or as an erotic object for the audience.

The male gaze reinforces a patriarchal social order since the men who created these fantasies emerge dominant while the women remain passive. Over time, these fantasies — with their portrayals of men as active and women as passive — construct social norms of a hierarchical ideology of a masculine and feminine binary, forcing the latter into the more negative role.

When films like Michael Bay’s Transformers — and countless others like it — get praise, it encourages a perverse voyeurism in society that exists because of the male gaze. This is why production companies like The Dollhouse Collective are so important. With women behind the camera, it discourages the male gaze. Instead, it encourages the female narrative in media, which allows for greater representation and a better portrayal of women in film. Movies made by women and starring women subvert the male narrative, thus weakening the patriarchal structure of society.

The Dollhouse Collective cannot change the movie industry by itself. The film industry is still an industry. As viewers, we need to prove that female-led films have an audience. If they make money, companies will then be more inclined to make more female-centric movies. Take this as a call to arms of sorts. Go see movies like Pitch Perfect 2, or support female directors like Ava DuVernay (known for her film Selma) or Sofia Coppola (best known for Lost in Translation). Support actresses like Rosario Dawson, Zoe Saldana, Cate Blanchett, and Emma Watson. Supporting them will help create a more equitable representation of women in the media.

Better representation of women in the media challenges these cultural norms of a patriarchal society, which would hopefully lead to greater equality between men and women.

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