Hey! It’s that time of the year again!
You know what time I’m talking about! The week to two weeks that every major organization tracking gender diversity in theatre/television/film creation releases their terrible statistics on how few women and people of color are making their way to the top of their profession so we can write angry blog posts about it for a week and then go back to business as usual!
That’s right, within one week,
- TCG has released their annual Most Produced Playwrights list (SPOILER ALERT: there is one woman, who also happens to be the only person of color on the list).
- The Center for Study of Women in Television and Film released statistics revealing only 26% of shows on major networks are created by women.
- The Director’s Guild of America released a report that women make up 15% of television directors (of that, minority women clock in at a stunning 4%).
Oh wait, but my favorite punchline to all of this: this editorial titled (I kid you not) The End of Men, TV Titles Edition – which, more ridiculously, shows up when you post it as a link reading “Proof That Women Have Taken Over TV.”
Analysis: well, we don’t get to write, direct, produce, or create, but, hey, women are really being mentioned a lot in television titles. Hello, progress!
Reveal statistics. Cue bitching and moaning from both sides. Close discussion. Rinse and repeat next year, when these statistics have altered to the tune of four points, or a couple more women on the list.
WAIT. STOP. NO! Let’s talk about this!
Hey, what’s up? Seriously, what’s up with inequality? If this was one set of statistics, we might be able to get away with wondering if they are valid, but these are three major data sets that all point to one big, uncomfortable fact: climate of our industry is one of serious misogyny.
Whoa, boys. I’m not talking about man-on-woman misogyny. I am talking about an across-the-board attitudes, from men, women and corporations alike (hey, corporations are people too), the result of which is a serious lack of women’s voices represented in our mainstream culture.
The bad news: this is not about convincing a few cigar-smoking men to champion the ladies. This is actually about changing our conversation about women.
Famous case in point:
Why are we still asking that question? Why are we still sold on this idea that in making deals, in choosing scripts, in what we like, we are blind to everything but talent? Why will some of you reading this article cringe at the mere mention of the word “inequality,” thinking, “I’m so sick of hearing about this”? Yeah, it sucks. It sucks to experience it too.
Great. So. Let’s stop talking around this issue, and start a serious conversation about inequality that is not about shaming any particular demographic. Let’s start an ongoing conversation that addresses the endemic nature of the way we talk about women, represent women, view women, and why it is we’re having that conversation – as a culture – with men’s thoughts on the matter voiced twice as loud as women’s.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about the fact that women are more likely to discriminate against women. With women about half as likely to succeed as men, one prominent showrunner suggests that women feel twice as keenly the cutthroat nature of showbiz, and are reluctant to help others succeed. Let’s talk, then, about why we pit women against each other to compete for meager spots in women’s-only prizes. Let’s talk about the women who succeed and the women who don’t, and why we are more likely to choose a man’s voice over a woman’s, let’s talk about it.
It’s not rocket science. We have an exceedingly powerful reach as a culture, in a world where women across the globe are disempowered and disenfranchised. We have the opportunity here to literally change the world . Now. Not in twenty years.
If we are stopped by our own stubbornness, if we (much like the US Congress) cannot have an intelligent conversation oriented toward how we change at a much more rapid rate, then we are not the creative powerhouse we believe we are.
But we are. We are an industry of visionaries, innovators, and creators. We can change how this goes, and we can change it now. So, great. Glad we agreed on that.
Where do we start? Where do you start?