Today is a great day for gender justice in Hollywood. There are not many great days in this fight, but this is one of them. News broke today that the ACLU has asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate whether Hollywood is violating Title VII by not hiring more women. (FYI- Title VII is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents employers from sex discrimination, among other things.)
Here’s the crux of the ACLU’s letter:
- We have learned that women are systematically excluded from or underemployed in directing jobs as a result of: studios’, networks’, and producers’ intentional and discriminatory failure to recruit, consider, and hire qualified women directors;
- use of discriminatory recruiting and screening practices that have the effect of shutting women out, such as word-of-mouth recruiting and use of short lists on which women are under-represented;
- reliance on, and perpetuation of, sex stereotyping in hiring and evaluation of women;
- ineffective programs within the industry to increase hiring of women and people of color that do not lead to women getting directing jobs;
- lack of enforcement of internal industry agreements to increase the hiring of women and people of color.
ABOUT FUCKING TIME.
This shit has been going on for decades. They are now several generations of women who had believed and hoped to have directing careers but have been systematically shut out because of their gender. This is not about talent. Women never even got the chance to prove if they’ve got the goods or not. I’m sure there are women out there who want to direct and don’t have what it takes — just like there are ambitious but talentless men. But for fuck’s sake — let’s give them a chance. Don’t give me the bullshit about there not being enough qualified women when they can’t even get their foot in the door to be seen.
This is about a lack of opportunities, plain and simple. Women are not put on directing lists. When industry executives think about directors, they think about dudes. This is about the boys club. This is about an industry not figuring or caring to figure out how women can have kids and directing gigs. It’s about men on sets who don’t want to take orders from a woman. It’s about willful disinterest in stories about women and in women’s visions.
This is about discrimination. This is about our culture. This is about our role models. This is about our future. I really hope the studios take this seriously. It might be time to implement a quota to get this to change.
So major props to Maria Giese, who has basically given up directing in order to fight this battle, and to Lexi Alexander, who keeps kicking ass on Twitter. To Dr. Martha Lauzen for doing this research back in 1998 when no one gave a shit. And to the ACLU women, Melissa Goodman and Ariela Migdal, who have been working on this for a long, long time.