Less than a month ago, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched a petition with the hopes of gaining more support and momentum in the struggle to end the industry’s gender-biased hiring practices. According to The Hollywood Reporter, more than 1,700 film-industry professionals, including filmmakers, directors, writers, actors and producers, have stood for #FilmEquality and signed the online document.
“We have been very encouraged by the
response to our petition,” said Melissa Goodman, Director of the ACLU of Southern California’s LGBQT Gender and Reproductive Justice Project. “We think even these
preliminary numbers show strong support for the civil rights agencies to take
some action.” Goodman refused to provide the names of any of the signers.
Last month, the ACLU asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and two other governmental agencies to investigate whether Hollywood is engaging in discriminatory hiring practices that adversely affect women directors, specifically “the widespread exclusion of women directors from employment in directing episodic television and feature films.” The letter to government agencies, which was released publicly, included insights from 50 women directors who were consulted about their experiences working in the business.
Since then, a number of female filmmakers, including Kathryn Bigelow and Gina Prince-Bythewood, spoke in favor of the cause. Not only has the ACLU’s campaign against sexism in Hollywood been making headlines, but arguably most importantly, it’s gotten more people talking about gender inequity in Hollywood and how we can find and implement meaningful ways of solving this problem.
As the petition states, signing it “will tell three government civil rights agencies (1) that gender bias against women directors in film and television is real and has gone on for far too long and (2) investigation and oversight from civil rights enforcement agencies to foster reform of the industry’s biased hiring practices would be a welcome step. … Our goal is to show the civil rights enforcement agencies that a significant number of people who are women directors or work with women directors want this long-running civil rights problem to be fixed.”
We are on the precipice of change. Hollywood is in dire need of a radical makeover, and the ACLU will hopefully be instrumental in bringing this transformation about. As the ACLU’s original letter states, “Overt sexism remains a real, concrete barrier” for women directors. It’s time that we break that barrier down.
You can sign the petition here. Join us and stand for #FilmEquality.