How pervasive are sexism and misogyny in the entertainment industry?
by Ana Walia | Mon, 20 Dec 2021 21:30:17 GMT
Emma Watson has spoken up about facing sexism in the industry. Image Source: USA Today 

As an audience, you might have heard the word "misogyny" a lot of times, and misogyny is defined as a fixed prejudice towards women, and there are a lot of female artists who have faced the same in the entertainment world. Angelina Jolie in her 2019 Elle article mentioned, "What is it about the power of a woman free in mind and body that has been perceived as so dangerous throughout history?"

Let’s dive into the mindsets of these women and see how they feel about the "misogynistic culture in Hollywood."

For ages, women in the entertainment industry or in general have been fighting for their space, screen space, recognition, and good and impactful characters. Even today, there are a few of them who still have to face such behavior where they are either paid less than the male lead, or their character is not defined properly, or maybe they are in the movie just for the sake of it.

From time to time, successful actresses have spoken up and shared their experiences of facing sexism in the industry. Oscar-winning actresses, including Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Lawrence, etc., have shared and vented their experiences and mindsets boldly and in public about inequality in pay, power, and creating opportunities for women in the entertainment business.

Jennifer Lawrence haa shared and vented their experiences and mindsets boldly and in public about inequality in pay, power, and creating opportunities for women in the entertainment business. Image Source: USA Today 

Emma Watson, in 2017, said in her powerful speech during an event, "I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Of the producers I’ve worked with, 13 have been male and only one has been female. But I am lucky: I have always insisted on being treated equally and have generally won that equality. Most of the problems I have encountered have been in the media, where I have been treated incredibly differently from my male co-stars. I think my work with the UN has probably made me even more aware of the issues. I went out for a work dinner recently. It was seven men and me. If something does go wrong in the workplace, the support network is not brilliant. The men at the top often find it difficult to relate to a lot of the difficulties women face, and so we aren’t taken very seriously. Yet, women are just as guilty of discriminating against women as men. Some of the best feminists I have encountered are men, like Steve Chbosky, who directed me in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and director James Ponsoldt, with whom I am working at the moment [on The Circle]. Some women can be incredibly prejudiced against other women! "

Megan Fox is one of the most gorgeous-looking and extremely talented actresses in the industry who is known for her powerful characters and the way she voices her opinion on something she dislikes. She has previously shared that during her time on the sets of "Transformers," she was just told to be "sexy," even after stating out loud that she despises the way someone talks to her like that. Later, it was known that crew members of the film published an open letter suggesting a "porn star in the future" would be a "good career" for Megan Fox. Megan Fox shared, "The problem is, if they think you’re attractive, you’re either stupid or a whore or a dumb whore. The instinct among girls is to attack the jugular. " Being sexualized or attacked by the media never stopped her from being her authentic self or playing a helpless victim; rather, it has only helped her to be stronger and refuses to let herself be objectified by the men in the entertainment industry.

Megan Fox at MET GALA 2021. Image Source: Vogue 

Emily Ratajkowski is also no stranger to facing misogynistic behavior in the industry, and in her essay, she shared how her initial "girlhood" period was heavily influenced by misogynistic culture in the entertainment industry. She has detailed everything in her book as well. When people criticized Kim Kardashian for her nude selfie, Emily defended her and posted a picture of the two women together topless, giving the haters the middle finger. She captioned, "We are more than just our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we have to be shamed for them or our sexuality." Emily has also shared, "Our society tells women we can’t be sexy, confident, and opinionated about politics; instead, we are stereotyped and boxed into specific categories. We are constantly asked to defend our motivations, which makes us second-guess them. I just don’t think I get to see women on screen who have duality or complexity as much as I’d like. I think it’s about finding a way for a woman to watch a movie and feel like they know that person, really well, in the way that I think men feel watching films all the time. That’s the dream role. And I don’t think they come around a lot. I think some incredible actresses bring roles to life in that way, but I would like to find one that’s on the page already, rather than needing to fill in the gaps. "

Camilee Paglia wrote, "Mystery shrouds women’s sexuality. This mystery is the main reason for the imprisonment a man has imposed on women. ’ In recent times, singer Billie Eilish has been constantly objectified and sexualized for the way she looks or how she carries herself.

Emily: I just don’t think I get to see women on screen who have duality or complexity as much as I’d like. Image Source: SheKnows

Jessica Chastain, who started her own production company in 2016 titled, "Freckle Flims," shared, "I started eliminating the description of female characters; women being defined or described by their hair color, like red hair, she’s feisty’. It’s about how women have been written out." Stacey Sher, the producer of Erin Brockovich, explains that everyone should understand diversity and have awareness about equality. She adds, "You have to install it in the writing team, the producers, everyone, with an awareness of it."

Natalie Portman added, "I definitely felt from a very young age that you’re being turned into an object, as opposed to, how do I look at the world? What do you want? That’s the big mental shift that I wish I had when I was a kid. " Critically acclaimed actress and Oscar winner, Reese Witherspoon started her own production company, "Hello Sunshine." She mentioned, "Around the same time I started noticing scripts are not for women, I decided I was going to tour all the studios and meet with every studio head and say, "what are you developing for me or other women?" They literally looked at me blankly. They had nothing. One studio said, "We think we might have one movie where we can flip the gender from a man to a woman." I thought, ‘This is crazy.’ It’s time for business to wake up and realize its good economics as well as the right thing to do. "

Natalie Portman shared that she has faced sexism at a very young age. Image Source: Vanity Fair

Geena Davis said, "We cannot wait around for change to happen when all the evidence shows us that we’re going nowhere slowly. We have to create momentum based on this moment. You can’t just say "we didn’t sexually harass women, but we’re not going to give them bigger roles, more to say or more important things to do." Cate Blanchett lastly added, "For change to happen, it has to be inclusive. Everyone has to go along with it. And change needs to happen immediately. "

Singer and Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift has often faced backlash for writing songs about her exes. In the summer of 2019, it was revealed that Scooter Braun had gained the rights to her masters and all of her music content from Big Machine Label, and the singer accused him of incessant and manipulative bullying. The singer finally decided to re-record her songs to gain the rights to her songs for herself.

Kristen Stewart, who is also known for speaking her mind out, spoke with The Wrap in 2015 about sexism and stated, "Hollywood is disgustingly sexist. Women inevitably have to work a little harder to be heard. It’s crazy. It’s so offensive it’s crazy. " Mindy Kailing also spoke about her experience as the only woman of color on the writing staff of The Office, whose name was on the verge of being ripped off the list of producers. She spoke to ELLE U.S. and shared, "They made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer." I had to get letters from the other white male producers saying that I had contributed when my actual record stood for itself. I had written so many episodes and put in so much time in the editing room, just to have the Academy discard them because they couldn't fathom I was capable of doing it all. Thankfully, I was rescued by my friends, the other producers." 

Above mentioned women are just a 1/4 part of the ones who have made a strong step to come out and speak their truth. 2019’s "This Changes Everything" by Tom Donahue is a documentary that features trailblazing women including Shonda Rhimes, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman, as well as Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, Taraji P. Henson, and Rose McGowan, and traces their take on the "misogynistic culture in Hollywood". You can watch it to better understand the culture of sexism and favors in the entertainment sector.