Yiran Ai’s Research into Feminist Films
On the 19th of June chief operating officer or COO, Rukhsana Malik and CEO and medical director Dr Mohmmed Kamran attended the University of Birmingham’s 13th annual research poster conference, which is considered by the university as one of their flagship events. It was a brilliant event and the talent of the researchers was evident, the graduate school did a brilliant job and we were grateful to be invited. The event hosted over 100 research abstracts that summarised research activities carried out by the doctoral candidates across multiple disciplines ranging from arts, and law, environmental, dental, physical, and life sciences. One of these candidates was Yiran Ai.
Yiran Ai is a doctoral candidate at the University of Birmingham. Her research
is based on gender perspectives in feminist films with Western directors and those in Hong Kong exploring the interpretations of feminism in the two cultures. The Western feminist films Yiran is studying include The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993) and About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999), she is also studying Summer Snow (Ann Hui, 1995) and Centre Stage (Stanley Kwan, 1991), which are by directors from Hong Kong. The focus of the study is gender identity as well as relationships between males and females.
One thing that stood out in Yiran’s research was the fact that a feminist film in no way equates to women’s cinema, they don’t have to be about women’s issues, they shouldn’t just be aimed at women, rather it should be about destroying the image that there are limitations to gender roles. Gender shouldn’t be a defining characteristic that prevents character development. Yiran was also keen to point out that directors of
feminist films didn’t have to be female, the films she is studying are directed by men and women. The feminist aspect is far more about female character development from passive to “active, aggressive and independent”.
Yiran poses that diversity and equality are vital, feminist films should show intersectionality and question not only gender roles but prejudices in ethnicity and race.
The connection between a feminist film expert and a company working in clinical research may seem tenuous but we were so enthused by Yiran’s passion in her plea for social equality and we couldn’t help but hear the echoes of her work throughout our own. Future Genetics has always been about empowering people to take part in clinical trials to improve health equality and outcomes for themselves. It is equally important for us, at Future Genetics, to see equality improve in every aspect of our lives.
Healthcare and social injustice have often gone hand in hand. The 1980s saw one of the most frightening epidemics in recent history, AIDs spread quickly throughout gay communities across Europe and America with no immediately apparent cause. This led to a campaign of fear and isolation by homophobic groups leading to sufferers being refused treatment and research being delayed and ultimately resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Gender and racial inequality can themselves take their toll on an individuals mental and physical health. Ethnic minorities are three times more likely to be refused entry to a bar, restaurant or club and women are far less likely to progress to Executive roles within their companies, only 7% of FTSE 100 companies are run by women. Social and professional isolation can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which themselves are as much a risk factor for mortality as high blood pressure obesity and smoking.
Yiran’s work could have massive implications on these issues, if we see an increase in equality within the media, if we see a rise in the production of feminist films we can change the narrative and see our society reach a position where women and minorities can reach positions of power and the situation you are born, work and live in will no longer pose a risk to one’s health.
Inequality is rife but so is empowerment, we are moving towards a society of acceptance and equality for all, we are starting to check our privilege and use that to further each other’s causes. The world has come on in leaps and bounds even in the past 30 years and the work that Yiran is doing will have implications, not only on producers in Hollywood but on minority groups and women working in all sectors, the true equality that Yiran looks for will be vital in the coming years to create an interesting and prosperous society.