When the first trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie came out, I pulled it up on YouTube and was excited to see women—of varied body types!—engaged as the heroes of the story. I chuckled a few times while watching it, thinking it looked like a typical summer blockbuster. And then I scrolled down to the comments section. It was a rookie mistake, but I couldn’t help it. The number of “dislikes” on the trailer was astonishing, more than a typical reboot trailer deserved. I couldn’t make sense of it until I saw the top-rated comment: “Women aren’t funny.”

Ah. There it was.

Ghostbusters is already being predicted as a flop, just like every other Melissa McCarthy movie in the past decade, despite the fact that all six of her most recent films have broken box-office records and Spy has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 94 percent. Several people have told me that the hatred directed at Ghostbusters isn’t because the protagonists are women but rather because it’s a remake of a well-known movie. But so were Jurassic World and Cinderella. I don’t know if Ghostbusters is going to be a good movie, but I do know that—like most films with female leads—it deserves more of a chance than it’s getting.

I didn’t start to become fully aware of the dearth of women in media—especially film—until a few years ago, but like an optical illusion, once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop seeing it. Just last week, I tried to start listening to a podcast, which, in an episode with six speaking characters, didn’t feature a single woman. (The story wasn’t contingent on maleness, either.)

According to last year’s annual “It’s ...

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