While I’ve said it often in conversation, I’m not sure I’ve ever said it on this blog: In my (almost never humble) opinion, Hollywood is the highest glass ceiling left in this country.
The sexism inherent in the entertainment industry first showed itself to me when I was in film school. In Film History, we studied the 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc. We were discussing the scene of her trial, and I started making a point about the powerful visual – mind you, this is a silent film – of Joan in her male garb duking it out with her accusers. The professor interrupted me to say, “We’re discussing filmmaking, not feminism.”
A fellow (male) student and I hit it off, until we discussed the dearth of women filmmakers in Hollywood, and he told me that “The movies women make just aren’t as good.” Moments later, it became clear that he was under the impression that I was going to have sex with him, probably because that’s how he envisioned women reacting to him as A Great Director.
These attitudes toward women in Hollywood are not isolated, subjective experiences. An entire Tumblr has popped up, devoted to the things people say to women in the film and television industry. This article in the LA Weekly runs you through some staggering statistics. It’s a relatively long read (I recommend making time for it), so here are some highlights:
“In 2013, 1.9 percent of the directors of Hollywood’s 100 top-grossing films were female, according to a study conducted by USC researcher Stacy L. Smith. In 2011, women held 7.1 percent of U.S. military general and admiral posts, 20 percent of U.S. Senate seats and more than 20 percent of leadership roles at Twitter and Facebook — and both companies now face gender-discrimination lawsuits.”
“…between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2014…
— Warner Bros. released 72 films … 53 of which we produced; 19 were only distributed by WB. Of those 53 films produced and distributed by WB, three were directed by women.
— Twentieth Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Animation and FOX 2000 produced 45 films. One was directed by a woman.
— Combined, Universal and Focus Features produced 101 films. Five were directed by women and one was co-directed by a woman.
— Paramount produced 51 films. One was directed by a woman; one was co-directed by a woman.
— Sony’s largest studios, Columbia and TriStar, produced 62 films. One was directed by a woman.
— Disney Studios and Disney Animation produced 52 films. Two had women as co-directors.”
These statistics focus on directors, but the numbers are not much better for producers, writers, cinematographers… essentially any filmmaking job other than Actress. And how are things for actresses in Hollywood these days? Ask the ladies in Amy Schumer’s recent skit, or Welcome to the Dollhouse star Heather Matarazzo, who all shed light on the significance of being “fuckable” in order to be cast in decent roles. It’s a qualifier that only applies to women, of course. It’s what this author implies is the reason that the very talented Mae Whitman was not re-cast as the President’s daughter in the forthcoming Independence Day sequel, even though she’s proven to be a greater box office draw than the relatively unknown actress who was cast. (Not to mention, she already played this role! She’s still around, and working, and adorable, and charismatic, and making money for studios. How is this even a question??)
Ask Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Garner, and these eight actresses, who are all speaking up about the industry’s blatant sexism. This is my favorite thing about what’s happening in Hollywood right now. The tide hasn’t officially turned, but damn if it hasn’t started to swell.
As frustrating as it is to encounter such reductive attitudes, I think it’s a very exciting time to be a woman working in Hollywood. We are living in an era where the sexism is still pervasive, but women are no longer keeping quiet when it happens to them. It may still be harder and more challenging for women to rise up the ranks, but they aren’t staying silent once they get there, and a lot of them are making noise along the way. Because women are all kinds of Able. We are capable, we are estimable, and we are bankable.
In essence, the tide is turning. We are on the precipice of what I believe will be a great shift in who helms the stories we are told. Don’t you worry, JLo. It is all happening, girl.
I for one can’t wait to be a part of it. #wearebankable