One of my favorite blogs, Women & Hollywood by Melissa Silverstein, regularly reports on the work being done by us female filmmakers. It also has the frustrating task of reporting how under-represented we are. This recent post reviews some of the data that's been collected and also points to some ways we can all work to make things better:
Dr. Martha Lauzen is my idol. She is the woman who has been tracking women's representation behind the scenes in the TV and film business for over a decade. Her studies, The Celluloid Ceiling and Boxed In, are the studies used by everybody who tracks issues related to women working in the business. She runs the newly created Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University
She recently appeared on a Movies by Women podcast (click on episode 14, but check out all the other great podcasts they have) to discuss issues related to women working in Hollywood, especially women directors. I highly recommend listening to the podcast but here are some highlighted quotes:
- Most women (across the country) don't understand the under-representation of women in the business.
- There has been a multi-year decline in women directors (working in films).
- 90% of what we see is a white male view of the world. We are so used to it that we don't even see it.
- People in Hollywood don't want to be called racist, but they don't mind being called sexist.
- When women have power to hire, they do hire more women.
- This notion that women won't or can't get along or don't hire women is not true. It's a myth which has political undertones that we see across all media. As long as women believe they can't trust each other, it's damaging to women as a group.
- We need to get the word out that women are under-represented and that this is a cultural problem.
- The privilege of denial is when people in positions of power encounter a point of view that does not jibe with their own and they say it does not exist.
So what can we learn from this? Being a sexist is a badge of honor in Hollywood, and denying that there is a problem is an effective tool being used to keep women out of positions of power. There has got to be one male executive whose daughter wants to be a director. I wonder what he would do if his daughter was denied a job just because she's a woman. There needs to be some kind of affirmative action committee to deal with this. It's such BS.