Finding structure for the feminist film in the scientific method.
madonna / whore ?
Stills from Daises, Vera Chytilova. Czech New Wave, 1966
Love this film - Daises by Vera Chytilova - a surrealist Czech film about two young women on a rampage. It’s from 1966 and has incredible visuals. I think of it as an influence for my feature She loves like blood but that won’t be nearly as wild as Daises. Is anything as intense as Daises?
One of the characters in my film, She Loves Like Blood, Violet, is a evolutionary psychologist in the midst of her PHD thesis. She is doing a retake on a famous gender difference test conducted by Simon Baron Cohen and graduate student Jennifer Connellan. They were looking for gender differences in new borns that were 1 and a half days old. This piece of research is used by countless pop psychology best sellers to explain the hard wired differences between men and women. Violet wants to challenge it and disprove it.
The following is a breakdown of the study and its problems as described by Cordelia Fine in her great book, Delusions of Gender.
“They looked for gender differences in newborns who were on an average of a day and a half old. The logic was simple: any differences between the sexes seen at this tender age can’t be chalked up to socialisation. One hundred and two babies were offered , one at a time , Connellan’s own face and a mobile to look at. The idea was to measure the babies interest in the face versus the mobile: empathising versus systemising. Each baby’s eye gaze was filmed, and this was later used to time how long each baby spent looking at the face or the mobile. Male and female babies spent equal amounts of time looking at the face: both sexes, on average, spent just under half the total looking time (which was about one minute) looking at Connellan’s face. However, Males looked longer at the mobile than did females (51 % of looking time versus 41% for females). Females looked longer at the face than the mobile ( 49 % versus 41% of looking time).
Much significance has been made of this study. `The results of this experiment suggest that girls are born prewired to be interested in faces while boys are prewired to be more interested in moving objects’ writes Leonard Sax in his book Why Gender Matters, a conclusion echoed in the popular media around the world. The implications for career choices are clear, Cambridge academic Peter Lawrence, citing the newborn sytudy aregues that men and women are `constitionally differnt’ and thus unlikely to ever become professor of physics and literature in equal numbers’. And in his contribution to the book Why Aren’t More Women in Science Baron Cohen suggest from teh newborn study that the bias in attention to things rather than emotions in boys and vice versa in grils reflects partly innate differences that culture then amplifies.
But unfortunately as some researchers have pointed out, the study was imply not done well. When you are claiming nothing less than evidence of the biological origins of a gender stratified society it helps to have a methodology that stands up to scrutiny.
Problems with the study
- Newborns wax and wane in their attention in the first few days of their lives. The objects needed to be presented at the same time rather than one after the other.
- babies eyesight before 3 months is not good and they tend to have a preference for a top heavy figure. Therefore the angle the object is presented has an influence. In Connellan’s study she tested newborns while laying flat and sitting on their parents lap.
- Nash and Grossi (2007) also pointed out that the children were presented to testing while still wearing evidence of their gender such as blue or pink blankets or outfits. Therefore this awareness could influence the testing procedure. In a more recent study they conducted the testing away from the mothers room and instructed the children to be dressed in gender neutral colours. All identifying information on the babies bassinet was removed. This test found no difference in eye gaze.
These images are for “she loves like blood” a feature I’m working on at the moment. I made this as a bit of a mood setting exercise, sketch of an idea of the title sequence.
had to borrow images from Florence, Feist and St Vincent as the characters do not yet exist. But these two girls `she’ will be Olivia and Violet - a scientist and a visual artist.