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Gender Issues

Chapter 1


Gender issues would not be considered such a major problem, if it did not create such catastrophic divide in the society. The wage gap, the violence on both sexes, the discrimination, limited access to benefits, and the unequal opportunities in building a career are just few of the issues faced by all genders. (Anne, 2011) These measures include access to basic needs like health, education and life expectancy. Gender issues would not be considered such a major problem.

Although evident progresses have been made but still the alarming rate of gender inequality remains.

The degree and causes of gender inequality vary throughout the world. Undeniable crimes on women such as femicide (murder of women), violence, and rape. On one such offense, honor killing, when female family members are perceived to bring disgrace to the family and resorts to slaughter in order to bring back the ‘family honor’. This practice has been a massive issue within many countries, Pakistan and the Muslim Middle East are only some of many countries that exhibit this unruly practice. Other illegality situations include that over 3,000 Guatemalan women have been killed for the past seven years accounting to cases of misogynistic violence, approximately 130 million girls that undergone genital mutilation in Yemen and Africa, and the estimated 5,000 females who suffered infanticide yearly (bride burning) in India, all for the reason of insufficient dowry payment – money from the bride’s family then offered to the husband. Actions that not only smears women’s reputations unlawfully hence, it also disregards the whole of humanity. (Nate, 2012)

While on the other hand, deeply-embedded homophobic and transphobic attitudes, often sided with inadequate legal protection against gender identity and sexual orientation most likely leads to human rights violations around the world, associated to the exposure of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of all ages. Neglecting the capability of expanding themselves within labor markets, schools and hospitals, mistreated and disowned by own families. Regularly aimed for abuse and physical attack – beaten, sexually assaulted, tortured and killed. (Ki-Moon, 2012)

And let us not forget, that unnoticeably men are also experiencing certain issues regarding gender orientations, Men are aggressively natured as John Wijngaards coined. He also added that men are built for hard physical work as per biological make-up. ( However, men are also criticized due to this mind-set. Women are given more priority in sectors regarding gender, more laws against violence, and stable psychological assistance for abused women. While on the other hand, there are no such programs dedicated for abused men. (

Men should not be weak, they should not be overpowered by women and should not show emotions. Men or boys are not encouraged to speak-up when they are violated or abused, there is a huge chance that they would be ridiculed instead of addressing the situation seriously. ( africa)

Men are often characterized by power and dominance. The book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James for instance, holds a male character possessing to be dominant and powerful over the female character which is indicated as submissive and weak.(

This are only some of the gender issues carved by the society, the researchers focused on Independent gender-based films for this study and have observed the presence of gender issues.

The researchers gathered gender-based films released by the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. The purpose of this film competition is to encourage Filipino filmmakers to create works outside of the mainstream standards – works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insights and artistic integrity.

Independent films are edgy, different, transgressed, and provocative. That is why the researchers chose Independent films for analysis; to determine if gender issues still exist in films which mirror the society.

The purpose of this study is to analyze the gender issues in selected Cinemalaya gender-based films in reference to The researcher’s coding guide, also to recognize how these issues were presented in these films.

Background of the Study

One of the most prominent conversations in culture today is that of gender issues and how they are addressed. The entertainment industry, specifically film, seems to be leading the charge across a variety of different formats. (DeLisa, 2016) Based on a research done by The New York Film Academy on “How Women are portrayed on screen in the Top 500 films”, statistics shows that 30.8% of speaking characters are women, 28.8% wore sexually revealing clothes, 26.2% of women get partially naked, 10.7% of movies featured a balanced cast where half of the characters are female, average ratio of male characters to female characters is 2.25:1, and the percentage of females depicted with some nudity has increased 32.5% from 2007 to 2012.

Another study shows that across 4,610 speaking characters in the 100 top films of 2014, only 19 were Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual. Not even one Transgender character was portrayed. Ten characters were coded as Gay, 5 were Bisexual, and 4 were Lesbian. A total of only 14 movies showcased a wide feature on LGB depiction and none of those films were animated.

The LGB characters coded, nearly two‐thirds were male (63.2%) and only 36.8% were female. LGB characters were also predominantly White (84.2%). Only 15.8% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds. (Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative pdf).

It is alarming that in several countries, laws forbidding cross-dressers are used as a tool for punishing transgender people on the mere fact that they are condemned on gender identity and expression. Some of the 77 countries’ discriminatory laws criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships – making an individual vulnerable from the risk of arrest, prosecution, imprisonment — even, in at least five countries, death penalty. (Ki-Moon, 2012)

It’s not much of a shock to realize that over the LGBT population there are only a few films dedicated in handling these issues.

Since the 1960’s women’s liberation movement, social, political, cultural roles as well for the economic life has drastically progressed for the greater good, indicating equality for both men and women. Yet male dominance is still visible in most industries around the globe, even in this millennium of the 21st century. The pace of female familiarity has become a cultural interpretation which the media delivers into everyday context. Television, film or even radio together with other media culture productions in which the very identities are forged, search of selfhood, the notion of our sexuality, noted by critical theorist Douglas Kellner (Flew, 2007).


Women age 15-49

(Source: 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey)

– 1 in 5 Filipino women has experienced physical violence since age 15.

– 6 percent have experienced sexual violence

– One-fourth of ever-married women experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence from their husbands.

– Only 30 percent of women sought assistance after being physically or sexually abused. 4 percent experience violence while pregnant.

– 1 in every 10 women is frequently accused by their husbands for being unfaithful.

– 2 in every 3 ever-married women got abused by their alcoholic husband

– 8 percent of ever-married women experienced domestic violence within the first two years of marriage.

– The Philippine National Police reported that rape ranked third among all VAW cases from 2004-2012.


– 3,168 girls experience abuse, 131 of them were babies under 12 months

– 1,149 girls were abandoned and neglected

– 1,157 girls were sexually abused, 448 cases involved incest. Many other cases go unreported. Kellner (Flew, 2007).

While Hollywood has a history of portraying gender and racial struggles from the society on screen, it seems that what goes on behind the camera might also be a startling example of inequality. USC just released a new study on gender, race and LGBT in the top 700 films from 2007-2014, and the results are very disturbing. Here are some of the issues relating LGBT: 86 of the top 100 films of 2014 had no LGBT characters while 84.2 percent of LGBT characters were Caucasian. (Rodriguez, 2015)

According to the study of Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative on Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014, the percentage of LGB characters in accordance to the LGB population in the U.S. is disturbingly low, which The Williams Institute at UCLA reports to be 3.5% and 0.3% identifying as Transgender. In recent study of 18‐35 year olds in the U.S., “seven percent of millennials identify either as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)” Clearly, Hollywood is substantially under indexing on inclusive portrayals of the LGBT community.

The gender and racial/ethnic breakdown of 19 LGB characters are nearly two‐thirds were male (63.2%) and only 36.8% were female. LGB characters were also predominantly White (84.2% or 16 White characters, 10.5% or 2 Asian characters, 5.3% or 1 Black character). In terms of age, the majority of characters were young adults or older (n=17).

Three trends were apparent in portrayals of LGB characters in the top‐grossing films of 2014. First, depictions of healthy romantic/sexual relationships were scarce. Of 19 LGB characters, only two were portrayed as being in a public, stable, long‐term partnership and two were shown dating. Notably, these characters represented interracial (Asian/White) Lesbian couples. However, no Gay or Bisexual male characters were portrayed in a committed relationship. Second, no LGB characters were depicted as parents raising young children together. Finally, a handful of Gay and Bisexual characters were shown concealing their sexuality. (Smith, 2014)

Our definition for gender equality arises from reading of various literature, including films: it manifests as hierarchical genders relations, with men above women, and women being regarded as inferior and less valuable solely by virtue of their sex. Although the literature predominantly focuses on women we recognize that men in less developed countries also suffer from behaviors and policies that foster hierarchical gender relations. Gender hierarchy is manifested in family relationships, inheritance laws and customs; valuations of women’s work and its general invisibility; and the power to make decisions in society, the family, work place, religious and other cultural institutions.

In analyzing these gender issues within Cinemalaya Gender-based films, the Researchers’ assumed that independent films would be more appropriate to content analyze for this study rather than the typical mainstream films. For indie or independent films are not subject to any restrictions unlike mainstream films. Philippine independent films are mainly produced by a foundation, Cinemalaya, which aims to showcase Filipino talent with a new sense of artistry in a free verse format. Expressing issues in notion as well-detailed as possible, providing an authentic insight on the concept.

Every year ten skilled individuals are given the opportunity to amaze us of their obras, giving way to new ideas and new minds in the field of filmmaking.

Theoretical Framework

This research “A Content Analysis on the presentation of Gender Issues in Selected 11 Cinemalaya Cinemalaya Gender-based Films” adapts The Semiotics Theory by Roland Barthes (Griffin, 2011)

Semiotics Theory by Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes, a French literary critic and semiologist, claims that for him Semiotics is an “adventure”. This theory’s goal is to interpret verbal and nonverbal signs. Semiotics is mainly concerned on “anything that can stand for something else” – Barthes

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, what they mean, and how they are related to the things they refer to. It is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign. It is used to refer to a potential science that might investigate the nature of signs, study their impact on society, and state the laws that govern them. (Littlejohn, 2002)

Barthes’ description of a sign as the correlation between the signifier and the signified came directly from Saussure. The Swiss linguist visualized a sign as a piece of paper with writing on both sides—the signifier on one side, the signified on the other. If you cut off part of one side, an equal amount of the other side automatically goes with it. Using a similar metaphor. Saussure insisted the relationship is arbitrary—one of correlation rather than cause and effect.

In Pierce’s own words, “Reality can be known through signs”.

A Sign Does Not Stand on Its Own: It Is Part of a System. Semiotic is the theory of production and explanation of meanings. Its principle is that meaning is made by the organization of acts and objects which purposes as signs as associated with other signs. A structure of signs is created by the complex meaning of relations that can exist between signs.

Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, odors, flavors, acts or objects but such things have no intrinsic meaning and become signs only when we invest them with meaning. (Chandler, 2007).

Sign, the inseparable combination of the signifier and the signified.

Signifier, the physical form of the sign as we perceive it through our senses; an image.

Signified, the meaning we associate with the sign.

Semiotics is the study of every detail in a story and how spectators interpret these details.

This Communication Theory is commonly associated in analyzing a story’s content.

This puts forward the Researchers as it copes the Semiotic Theory model:

Figure 1.0 Adapted Framework of Semiotic Theory

Conceptual Framework

In application of the Semiotic Theory on the given topic “A Content Analysis on the Presentation of Gender Issues in Cinemalaya Gender-based Films”.

The Researchers substitute the factors of the study with the three variables of the model from the Semiotic Theory: sign, signifier and signified.

With that in hand, the Researchers identified the signified as The Presentation of Gender Issues in Cinemalaya Gender-based Films, Cinemalaya Gender-based Films as the sign. The sign system is inevitable to the matter; in this way the meaning of the signs is to be revealed through the viewers’ detailed observation, in this study the Researchers serve as the viewers of the story.

The Researches implied that the signifier is Gender Issues Presented in the Film through the Study’s Objectives, this is looked up as the image of the study. Signs which hold rational aspects and objectives give meaning and interpretation to the subject.

And to end this, with the use of signifier, the researchers point out that Gender Issues Presented in the Film through the Study’s Objectives within the Cinemalaya Gender-based films and the parameters of it to be acknowledgeable as The Presentation of Gender Issues in Cinemalaya Gender-based Films is the signified.

It is the meaning and concepts the researchers aim to analyze; these are the dependent variables of the study.

Statement of the Problem

The Media has an immense role in distributing information to the society, films being one of them. Film has a huge influence to the viewers that caters to all genders. The Researchers aims to seek the answer to the question,

– “What is the Presentation of Gender Issues in Selected 11 Cinemalaya Gender-based Films?”


The Researchers would conduct a content analysis on Selected 11 Cinemalaya Gender-based films. Concentrating on scenes wherein Gender was the main Issue.

1. To determine the Theme of Selected 11 Cinemalaya Gender-based films.

1.1 Man vs. Himself

1.2 Loss of Innocence

1.3 Revenge

1.4 The Battle

1.5 Individual vs. Society

1.6 Triumph over Adversity

1.7 Love Conquers All

1.8 Good VS Evil

2. To analyze the Gender Issues presented in Selected 11 Cinemalaya Gender-based Films.

1.1 Inequalities in Political Power

1.2 Inequalities within Households

1.3 Differences in Legal Status and Entitlements

1.4 Violence against Women

1.5 The Expectations on Men to be Dominant and Powerful

1.6 Men are not Entitled to be Weak

1.7 Body Shaming

1.8 Violence against LGBT

1.9 Racial Discrimination against LGBT

1.10 Negative Family Reaction on LGBT Children

1.11 Discrimination in the Workplace

3. To determine the Treatment of the Film:

1.1 Positive

1.2 Negative

1.3 Neutral

4. To determine the Tone of the Issue;

1.1 Straightforward Tone

1.2 Interpretative Tone

1.3 Emotional and Dramatic Tone

1.4 Sarcastic Tone

1.5 Sexual Tone

5. To classify the resolution of the gender issues presented in the film based on:

1.1 Explicit

1.2 Implicit

1.3 Twist

1.4 Tie-back

1.5 Unresolved

1.6 Long View


1. The Researchers assume that the gender issue present in Cinemalaya Gender-based films would be more on violence against LGBT.

2. The Researchers assume that gender issues are more likely to be found in films which presents members of the LGBT group.

3. The Researchers assume that the treatment towards Gender issues are mostly negative.

4. The Researchers assume that the tones in Cinemalaya Gender-based films are mostly straightforward.

5. The Researchers assume that there will be more gender issues which has no resolution.

6. The Researchers assume that the theme Man vs Society will be prominent in these Cinemalaya Gender-based films.

7. The Researchers assume that the theme Revenge will be present in Cinemalaya Gender-based films.

8. The Researchers assume that Cinemalaya Gender-based films are more sexual than other films.

Significance of the Study

For the researchers

It gives a different perspective on how the researcher’s view Cinemalaya Gender-based films, not only do the researchers consider the plot, but also the presentation of gender issues in these films and how resolutions were derived.

For the Filmmakers

This study offers ideas to the filmmakers by providing information that their role in film is important and has a huge impact on influencing the society.

This study will also express that the filmmakers has the power to advocate gender issues in their films as eye openers and will help in solving issues that involves gender. It also promotes to increase produced films that are gender sensitive. Basically, this also shows that there are only a few films which have a plot considering LGBT stories hence, the LGBT population.

For the film critiques

This study is significant to viewers for it develops more ways of criticizing films. Cinemalaya Gender-based films might just make it to their list: considering that there are only few produced. This study can also encourage film critics to concentrate on films which tackle gender issues.

Scope and Limitations

The researchers’ film selection is influenced on the basis that there are only a few of these, movies produced.

The researchers will concentrate on the list of films provided by the Cinemalaya Independent Philippine Film Festival which is identified as gender-based films

Most of the films were not available through youtube hence, resorted to in-house viewing which lead to time constrictions. Considering the situation of only having two available viewing sessions from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon with CCP, the Researchers’ were only able to present 11 Cinemalaya Films from the original of 20 listed gender-based films.

The focus of this study is the presentation of Gender Issues in Selected 11 Cinemalaya Gender-based Films.

Operational Definition

Quantitative Research

Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than Qualitative data collection methods.

Content Analysis

Content analysis is a technique for systematically describing written, spoken or visual communication. It provides a quantitative (numerical) description. Many content analyses involve media – print (newspapers, magazines), television, video, movies, the Internet. Any medium that can be recorded and reviewed is appropriate. Content analysis is also used to analyse new material recorded by the researchers, and to classify open-ended responses to interview or survey questions. (Stambor, 2005)


One of the categories (masculine, feminine, and neuter) into which words (such as nouns, adjectives, and pronouns) are divided in many languages (Merriam Webster Dictionary). ‘The relations between men and women, both perceptual and material. Gender is not determined biologically, as a result of sexual characteristics of either women or men, but is constructed socially. It is a central organizing principle of societies, and often governs the processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution’ (FAO, 1997).


The Theme is the overall message or argument that a film is trying to make. (Arnold, 2010)


The tone is the overall mood or feeling of a film. To figure out the tone, think to yourself. How it makes me feel. (Arnold, 2010)


A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex. Although it can be used for any sex (e.g. gay man, gay woman, gay person), “lesbian” is sometimes the preferred term for women who are attracted to women. (Killermann, 2016)


A woman who is primarily attracted to other women. (Killermann, 2016)


An exaggerated oversimplified belief about an entire group of people without regard for individual differences. (Gene, 2013)


Is a non-stock, non-government, not-for-profit Philippine foundation committed to the development and promotion of Philippine Independent Films. A competition aiming to encourage further creations beyond the traditional cinematic boundaries of Filipino filmmakers – films that boldly represents and freely articulates the Filipino life with accurateness enclosed in an artistic touch. Also, inspiring new insights and perspectives for the new generations of Filipino film producing minds. Picking ten fresh talents every year, giving them a chance to produce their concepts into a film. Paving a pathway to more awards and opportunities. (

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.