Bioethics Blogs

Bioethics & the Status of Women Filmmakers

There are currently less than 7% of films created by women making it to major film festivals —that is 7%, per year, worldwide. This percentage has remained low and static for 25 years. Film festival screenings constitute theatrical releases. Theatrical releases are required for film and/or television distribution.

Low access to film festivals limit women’s ability to earn livings behind the camera in their industry. The number of screen stories genuinely reflecting women’s experiences is also disproportionately diminished. Omission of the perspective of women in film complicates matters in the purview of bioethics: beneficence, autonomy and justice. 

23 percent of people surveyed consider entertainment television as the top three sources of their health information. That health information is being controlled through a male perspective as shots are usually called by male producers, directors and writers. It is a bioethical tenant that equality does not equal sameness. This was learned when in 1993, the US federal government mandated women and racial minorities be included in drug research. Clinical observation showed women and minorities were being harmed by lack of inclusion as women’s responses to pain and pain medications were significantly different from those of men. These new observations coincided with increasing the critical mass of women and peoples of color in the medical profession. Women in film seems to represent a parallel situation.

Women filmmakers are denied the opportunities to reflect functional abdominal pain, menopause, postpartum depression, caregiver burnout, forced sterilization. We are not seeing these stories; yet women struggle to comprehend their meanings in gyms, carpools and walks on dirt roads to schools around the world.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.