When it comes to their representation in popular culture and media, women get a raw deal; they’re frequently sexualised, objectified, reduced to their gender roles, and pushed to the sidelines. Women are forcefully limited. It’s this treatment of women in one form of media in particular that Anita Sarkeesian aimed to deconstruct and call out in her web series Tropes Vs Women in Videogames. Anita’s project garnered positive interest as well as intense harassment but from it her non-profit organisation Feminist Frequency has grown, devoting itself to critically engaging with media.
This year, Tropes Vs Women in Videogames is sadly coming to an end, but Feminist Frequency has another exciting web series up its sleeve that aims to engage with an even bigger picture: history. The series is called Ordinary Women: Daring to Defy History and Feminist Frequency say its about women throughout history “challenging stereotypes, smashing the status quo, and being defiant.”
What we know of history isn’t always true and those who record it aren’t necessarily paragons of unbiased virtue. It’s partly because of this that women in history are often represented as secondary figures, reduced to their roles as wives and mothers rather than celebrated as heroes, leaders and innovators. Our history in part informs our culture and how women are represented in that history can have a great effect on how society views women currently and how those women view themselves. The Ordinary Women series wants to “look back at the amazing women throughout history who defied gender stereotypes and changed the world, to remind us that the stories we tell about women—in TV shows, comic books, video games and in real life—often reflect the limitations placed on them, rather than the world-changing feats they’ve already achieved.”
The series will launch this September with five episodes, each of which will tell the story of a different woman in history: Murasaki Shikibu, Emma Goldman, Ching Shih, Ada Lovelace, and Ida B. Wells. Each episode will feature original animation and a visual style inspired by the woman and the period in history it focuses on. Even Anita’s hair, makeup, and clothing in the videos will be influenced by portraits of the women. This shows a lot of care and attention to detail has gone into making the Ordinary Women series and we can’t wait to tune in.
Feminist Frequency have been working on the series since September 2015, aiming to publish the first episode in September of this year. To help them achieve their goal, they’ve set up a crowdfunding campaign to help cover post-production costs. If you’d like to help make the web series happen you can head over to the crowdfunding page here. After just one day they’ve managed to raise over $10,000 of their $200,000 goal and there are still 29 days of the campaign left to go.
The women of the past didn’t let cultural limitations hold them back and by acknowledging and celebrating this we can ensure the women of the future won’t either.
Images: Feminist Frequency