“How, in the modern world, does gender manager to persist as a basis or principle for inequality? We can think of gender inequality as an ordinal hierarchy between men and women in material resources, power, and status. A system of gender inequality like this has persisted in the United States despite major transformations in the way that gender, at any given time, has been entwined with the economic and social organization of American society. A gender hierarchy that advantages men over women survived the profound social and economic reorganization that accompanied the transition of the United States from an agrarian to an industrialized society (Ridgeway, C.L., 2011., pp.1).”

Bonnie Cohen and Joh Shenk’s 2016 documentary Audrie and Daisy (2016) follows the stories of multiple teenage girls who have, while being intoxicated and unconscious at high school parties, have been sexually assaulted by boys they called their ‘friends’. After, the boys exploit their assaults to the entire schools, leading to the online harassment of the teenage girls – All of them attempt suicide, some, tragically succeeding, then blowing up into full criminal investigations. Not only does the film explore the public shame surrounding sexual assault victims and abusers, it highlights the complete legal mismanagement and gender/class/race inequalities that present within sexual assault cases.

This is an exceptionally important documentary when we discuss this idea of screening gender politics. Not only does the film explore the horrifying reality that is that in every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, but the reality is that in most cases, their assaults are committed and swept under the rug by the hands of the people that are meant to protect and care for them; The law enforcement, their friends, their family friends, and so on. Cohen and Shenk have effectively created an open discussion, forum and community on gender and the prevalence of sexual abuse within the viewers of their screen text, through giving victims of abuse and unjust mismanagement of abuse cases a platform to discuss their stories. By doing so, the filmmakers have brought this idea of screening gender to the forefront, rather than leaving it in the background as a topic to discuss in the afterthought of the production of the film. It’s an upfront, honest, commentary from the filmmakers on gender and gender inequalities. There is no other subject the filmmakers want you to walk away from the film discussing, other than the gender inequality that presents in this modern society that tells us the above quote from Ridgeway is truth, and screams at us that “femininity is… not the product of a choice, but the forcible citation of a norm… Once… she cannot approximate or properly cite the feminine norm, she questions only herself and her “performance” rather than the norm itself (Cheu, J., (ed.) 2012, pp.118)”.


  • Ridgeway, C.L., 2011. Framed by gender: How gender inequality persists in the modern world. Oxford University Press.
  • Cheu, J., (ed.) 2012, Diversity in Disney Films : Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability, McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers, Jefferson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *