Wertmuller. Campion. Coppola. Bigelow. These are the last names of the only women who have been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards in it’s eighty-two years. That’s a lot of male winners! Only one of these women, Kathryn Bigelow, has won the coveted award with 2010’s, The Hurt Locker.
Appalling right? How is it that so few women have managed to succeed in the film industry?
Over the years hundreds of films have been recognized by the Academy. Yet, the Best Director award remained out of reach for a women until 2010. Women have had the right to vote since the 1920’s and Title IX has been in effect since the 1970’s. Both have made equality between men and women somewhat more even (although we still have a long way to go). But one area where women have remained unable to make a name for themselves is the film industry. It is a very male dominated industry. Men dominate in pretty much all areas of the film process except, I suspect, in costume design.
In 2010 only 7% of the top 250 highest grossing films were directed by a women. And only 10% of the top 205 highest grossing films were written by a women. Statistics like this make it all too apparent how little women are in control of the films which are released each year. And women make up more then 50% of movie goers. So one would think that they would be at least half of the people behind the scenes of films. However this isn’t so.
Think about it, 80% of the films produced are told from the perspective of a man. Even if the story is centered around a female character(s) it is still told through a man’s eyes. Women and men view females differently. Men tend to over-sexualize female characters. Whereas women are likely to create characters that are like how women actually see themselves. And when women are portrayed in an overly sexual manner that doesn’t bode well for anyone. It teaches men to demoralize women and for women to see themselves as inferior.
It’s daunting to any women to think they’d be in the same industry with people who’ve created some of the most misogynistic films to date. But this is precisely the reason why more women need to be an active part of the film industry. So the misogynistic films can be curtailed. And so that more women’s voices can be herd. It’s like Mao Tse-Tung’s quote, “women hold up half the sky,” so shouldn’t women be writing, producing, editing, directing half of the films in Hollywood?
*I originally wrote this article for my tumblr Cinematic Style but I thought I would share it on this blog. It is after all, the article that convinced me to start Cinematic Women!