Woman as Cabbage to Women as Prime Ministers and Presidents: Demanding Women’s Rightful Space in the Film and Television Industry

  • Karen Buczynski-LeeEmail author


What do women say when given the opportunity to ‘run amok’ with visual technology? Karen Buczynski-Lee asks this question in the context of Vida Goldstein’s political campaigning and Alice Guy-Blache’s filmmaking. In 1896 Alice Guy-Blache (1873–1968) told the universal story of creation with humanity and humour in her first film The Cabbage Fairy, powerfully proclaiming her rightful space and place equal to men. By visually messaging that woman’s place in 1896 was equal to that of a cabbage she simultaneously magnified women’s real worth. Film has become one of the most powerful mediums of our time and the implications for women’s struggle for equality are immense. Film and filmmaking can and do precipitate change. Buczynski-Lee illustrates this by reference to filmmaking and the political arena. Blurring fiction with fact, through the Danish television series Borgen (2010–2013) producer Camilla Hammerich and writer Jeppe Gjervig sent a message to the world that women prime ministers’ time had come (albeit powerful female prime ministers were already known in the political world). Women viewing that television series saw that they could lead and were entitled to do so. Along with women, this small screen affirmation taught populations globally that women could hold the highest office of the land. Buczynski-Lee cautions, however, that women’s cultural equality through the medium of film and television must be legislatively promoted and safeguarded. Just as men have not relinquished power voluntarily in democratic processes, the parliament, the law and culturally the vast majority of men will not voluntarily surrender power in film and television. Just as it was over 100 years ago, when women like Goldstein struggled for and gained the right to vote and stand for political office, good men must be encouraged to embrace the importance of recognising and actively supporting women’s economic and cultural inclusion—for women’s right, and for society’s benefit. Women ‘running amok’ with visual technology, she argues, can—in the tradition of Goldstein and Guy-Blache—lead only to more equal, more innovative and more exciting times.


Prime Minister Visual Medium Film Industry Television Series Australian Capital Territory 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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