Dakota Fanning: Women In Film Don’t Need Male Validation


Hmmm, it seems pretty evident to us that both Fanning sisters are huge fans of the Bechdel Test, and are clearly the new generation of Hollywood feminists.

In May, promoting ‘Malificent’ with Angelina Jolie, the younger of the sisters, Elle Fanning, said in an interview with Fashion Magazine that women don’t always need a love interest in a film, that we can stand on our own as characters.

Couldn’t have agreed more! Especially since 70% of the films released in 2013 did NOT pass the Bechdel Test, which asks three simple questions: (1) Does the film have at least 2 female characters in it? (2) Do those female characters talk to each other? (3) Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?

Speaking out in support of more independent female characters on screen, is older sister and ‘Twilight’ actress Dakota Fanning.

In an interview with the Daily Beast she discusses Hollywood’s historically poor portrayal of women, and how her studies have affected the way she views the industry.

She is currently studying women’s studies major with an emphasis on studying “the portrayal of women in film and culture” at NYU. Her latest starring role is in the movie ‘Night Movies’ which is directed by Kelly Reichardt. Dakota says she was very attracted to the film’s eco-conscious themes, which also gives us a glimpse as to why she feels passionate about speaking out about certain issues (including women in film).

“We can’t continue to take from our planet the way we do and not give anything back, and the idea of, ‘Oh, but it’s fine, I won’t have to deal with it in my lifetime,’ well, you need to think about the future generations who will  have to deal with it,” she says.

Her studies have really opened up her eyes to why actively changing the portrayal of women in film is so important for our culture.

“It’s something I’ve studied and thought about a lot,” she says. “It’s rare to see women in a film who are not somehow validated by a male, or discussing a male, or heartbroken by a male, or end up being happy because of a male. It’s interesting to think about, and it’s very true. Of course men are a part of women’s lives, and that’s fine, but it’s important to see strong, independent women who are making their own choices and aren’t completely at the mercy of men. It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, does this guy love me?’ It should be, ‘Do I love the guy?’”

As feminists, we are all pretty much in agreement when we say men aren’t the enemy, but at the same time women should be allowed to portray their strength and unique qualities outside the parameters of a relationship with men on screen. It will send a much more powerful message.

Dakota goes on to say when we only see women in relation to men on screen, it starts to limit the scope of what female actresses can do as they get older. Which in our opinion completely sucks!

“It’s about both genders being equal. There’s a history where when women get to a certain age in this industry, the roles become strictly the mother, the wife, or the older single woman. There should be more of a variety because there are so many different paths that humans take and they should be given a platform to be seen.”

She ends with some sound advice from uber director Steven Spielberg, who she worked with as a child on ‘War of the Worlds’.

“I worked with him when I was young and we’ve kept in touch—he’s a very big part of my life,” she says. “I was going through a very difficult time and he told me, ‘This isn’t the first difficult time you’re going to go through—there will be another one—but you just have to keep following your path and experiencing your own journey.’ ”

That’s some great advice we can all relate to. As for women in film, it has never been a more important time for female directors, writers, actors and producers to share their stories. The world is desperate to see different types of movies and female leads are proving to be a huge hit.

Men, we love you, but sometimes we just gotta do this on our own, ya heard?





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