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Reform Magazine | February 17, 2019

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Editorial: Female voices

This time last year, I was telling you about my New Year’s resolution – to watch as many films by female directors as male. The background was that I watch a fair few films and, in 2017, 85% of the films I watched were by men, which, as I said, seemed a bit wonky. It must restrict your vision if you mainly see the world through the eyes of men.

It was great. I discovered brilliant filmmakers I had never come across. I saw films, like Prevenge, a dark comedy about pregnancy that could not conceivably (ha!) have been made by a man. And I became aware how differently different filmmakers view the female body.

It wasn’t terribly easy. On the first weekend of 2018, there were 51 films screened in London, 50 of them by men. The other one was the sequel to a sequel of a film I hadn’t seen. I did keep my resolution – otherwise I wouldn’t have brought it up again – though only by catching up on a lot of older films, so I probably couldn’t do it a second time.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard though. One third of the Guardian’s recommended films of 2019 are by women, compared to a tenth last year. Desiree Akhavan, promoting The Miseducation of Cameron Post at Sundance London, said she was certain that things were improving now for female directors trying to get work. (The Miseducation of Cameron Post was reviewed in September’s Reform. Read it online at bit.ly/cameronP.

Reform aims to have at least as many female writers as male, and a representative number of minority ethnic contributors too – and to err on the side that is less dominant in our society. In ‘A good question’ last year, 23 writers out of 40 were women and 16 were from ethnic minorities. This is partly about the justice of equal opportunities, but to be honest, what is more on my mind is that as an editor and as a reader (and as a filmgoer) I want to hear from a full range of voices, otherwise I miss out. As Broderick Greer challenged me when he spoke to Reform in October 2016, if western theology is dominated by white male voices, ‘it diminishes the ways we see God’.

This year, my resolution is to get to church earlier. In 2019, and indeed forevermore, you’ll see me sat there in quiet contemplative readiness, rather than creeping in during the first hymn – which is particularly awkward when you’re preaching. See you here in a year for the results.

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This article was published in the February 2019 edition of  Reform

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