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Cross Post - 13 Myths Hollywood Uses to Hide Discrimination Against Women Directors

Features
by Maria Giese
October 29, 2013 10:00 AM
8 Comments
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Director Claudia Llosa

1. The number of women directors is so small because women are not really interested in directing and few women are exceptional enough to do a man's job.

Right, so 3,500 women DGA members pay their union dues just for the hell of it! Believe us--we ARE interested!

2. The ratio of women directors is improving--it's just going to take time.

The ratio hasn't changed significantly since the advent of cinema 100 years ago. How much more time shall we plan on waiting?

3. There are fewer women directors because more men attend film school.

Women make up 50% of the classes in almost every film school in the U.S.

4. Men are better directors because they have more experience.

If experience were everything, no young men would ever enter the profession. Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" was his debut feature. This argument diminishes the notion that some people are simply gifted in certain areas.

5. It's okay for women to direct small, independent femme-themed films, but men can handle all genres. And women certainly can't be trusted with big budget features or episodic television, even if they are female driven stories.

Women can too! It's risible and hypocritical that almost all female driven stories are directed by men.

6. It's okay to say "We don't hire women on this show" (we hear it all the time), but it's not okay to say "We don't hire African Americans/Asians/Latinos, etc... on this show."

Just think about that for a minute...

7. Women studio executives are helping hire more women film and television directors.

There are more women studio executives today than ever, but fewer women directors. Sony's Amy Pascal could only conjure up the name of ONE women director when asked recently, and even remembering Kathryn Bigelow seemed to require some strained mental effort.

8. The Director's Guild of America really wants to help increase employment opportunities for its women members.

That's why the ratio of male to female directors has remained in stasis for over two decades. The DGA is the organization charged with oversight of studio compliance of studio agreements to hire more women in accordance with U.S. civil rights laws.

9. In America, we protect freedom of speech--women can speak out about discrimination in the film & TV industry without FEAR of reprisals.

The #1 reason women do not speak out about discrimination in Hollywood is that they are afraid of getting BLACKLISTED.

10. America has a higher ratio of women directors than other nations around the world.

Almost all other countries in the world honor women directors more than the United States of America.

11. Women directors are not successful because they don't know how to get organized.

That sometimes seems true. But women did manage to get the right to vote in America after several hundred years of fighting for suffrage.

12. Hollywood has lots of wonderful diversity programs that help women break in to directing.

Not true. And over 20 years of failed Guild diversity programs have resulted in NO CHANGE in the ratios of women directors.

13. Women directors succeed or fail based on merit and their films will get good reviews and big budgets for marketing & distribution if their films are good.

Not true. Recent studies prove that since 80% of film critics are males, reviews of women's films are disproportionately harsh. Women's features suffer from disproportionately low P&A budgets, and on average, open on many fewer screens.

_________________________________________________

Maria Giese is an American feature film director, a member of the Directors Guild of America, and an activist for parity for women directors in Hollywood. Giese was a creator/organizer of the 2013 DGA Women of Action Summit. More info here

Republished with permission.

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8 Comments

  • Korky Day | May 23, 2014 10:24 PMReply

    Quotas worked for the Canadian music industry, which would hardly exist without them.
    In the USA, they have quotas for Congress. Not male-female, but quotas to make sure each state gets a share of seats in Congress. That's a geographic quota. So quotas are good, eh?

  • Morgan | November 8, 2013 10:26 PMReply

    So this is a list of myths that have been proven false because someone made a list and stated the opposite after each myth? Where's the sources or proof of any kind? Show me a statistic that claims women make up 50% of film schools. I realize the article said America but here in Vancouver there are about 6/50 girls in my film school. Also to claim that the amount of women working in the industry hasn't changed in 100 years is laughable. This woman clearly knows very little about film history if she thinks things haven't changed.

  • Whatever | May 23, 2014 1:26 AM

    They haven't, Morgan. The statistics are out there if you want to look for them. You could even, ya know, try Google.

    And, sorry to burst your bubble, but your "personal experience" =/= statistics or scientific data, either. You're an obvious troll, and a misogynist troll, and it's sad.

  • H. Marsh | October 30, 2013 2:06 AMReply

    It would be more effective if all these complaints included names of those who discriminate. It's not enough to say "Hollywood". Who in Hollywood is doing this? What are their names? It is illegal to discriminate according to the civil rights laws. Where are the class action lawsuits? I work for Walmart and they have been sued, named in the press, appeared in court and answered for their misdeeds. When stars in the past were suffering under the studio system, they sued and won. Hollywood is largely irrelevant anyway now that the internet and VOD exists and digital cameras are within reach of everyone.

  • Whatever2 | May 23, 2014 1:27 AM

    Erose got it right, here. And, by the way, the suits were TRIED in the 80s, and tossed out on a technicality. Women tried. They'll be sure to try again.

  • ERose | November 1, 2013 4:17 PM

    Discrimination is against the law, but the law really is only equipped to handle the most blatant and deliberate forms of discrimination.
    As a WalMart employee, you're in a position to know that, based on the most recent class action suit against the company to go before the Supreme Court. The suit stalled and failed because the court, presented with very similar circumstances to the ones in the film industry, did not allow female employees to proceed as a class suffering the same harm. A huge part of that was because these kinds of discrimination are not consciously practiced, but are the result of internalizing myths that permeate at a cultural level, and it's hard to pin them down as the direct cause of any specific harmful decision. A company not requiring a policy to control for those attitudes was specifically ruled as insufficient grounds for a class-action discrimination suit in this case.
    A court can overturn a flawed policy, not the attitudes that put the policy in place. Where there are harmful attitudes, but no resulting policy, the courts are virtually powerless. Across an entire industry with no central decision-making? It's laughably naive to believe the courts are the right venue for addressing these issues, especially if you're properly familiar with recent WalMart case law.

  • Kathy | October 29, 2013 11:44 PMReply

    This deep sexism is one of the biggest reasons I don't go to movies very often. I love movies but they're usually so male dominated that I don't want to spend my hard-earned money on them. Having said all that, I will admit that I try to go to as many good movies with strong, pro-feminist female leads (and screenwriters and directors) as possible. But since those types of movies are rare, I'm not a 'regular' at movie theaters.

  • Pat | October 29, 2013 2:05 PMReply

    Wasn't it Nora Ephron who said that one of the biggest myths that men perpetuate about directing movies is that it's so complicated and difficult that women wouldn't be able to do it, and that what she found when she first started directing was that it was actually easy. You had all sorts of people around you (cinematographer, designers, line producers, et al) offering suggestions and helping you make decisions. Sorry. I couldn't find the exact quote.

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