Gender inequality: And the best way to fight this is? Of all the voices I appreciated in this documentary, it was Mel Brooks’ “This is their time (meaning women’s)!” It’s long past time, but this documentary shows that the battle is far from won. It traces the inching progress that women have made in finding a voice in film, whether it’s acting, directing, or producing. It’s not as if women have advocated decimating males; they have simply wanted an equalplace at the table. 1918 statistics show that of the top grossing films, 85% of the writers were males; of domestic releases, 92% of the 250 domestically released films were male-directed.
There are many discouraging/heartbreaking stories here about the struggle for women simply trying to get a seat at the table. Women haven’t been asking for any favors—or even decimating the men in the privileged seat—they’re just asking for equality, just as the American soccer players of today are advocating equal pay for their achievements—which have been considerably more than their male counterparts’.
It’s hard to believe how long this struggle has been going on, considering that when films started being made, there were far more female filmmakers than male. This documentary shows that this began to change when sound was introduced—which required funding—and which brought in banks, an already established male hierarchy and consolidation of power, and also when unions fought to keep women out. Around this time, the Directors Guild of America was founded—by all males.
Subsequent attempts to stem the tide legally were met with discouragement. When Title VII (the Civil Rights Act forbidding hiring on the basis of race, color, or national origin) was invoked in 1969, charging discrimination in the film industry, the Federal Government intervened, disallowing the claims, and allowing gender inequality to continue in Hollywood for decades.
Despite Geena Davis’ efforts to advocate for equality—even in children’s films—today, only 15.6% of directors in the Directors Guild are women. When the Directors Guild filed a lawsuit against studios about the issue in 1983, the female judge threw out the lawsuit on the grounds that directors themselves were not hiring women. Even an ACLU suit in 2013 didn’t bring much success.
What will it take? I’ve said that it was easier to elect a black President than it would be a woman, just as blacks gained the right to vote before women did. The apparently deep-seated antagonism toward women is hard for me to comprehend.
A no-holds-barred look at women’s roles in film and the consistent discounting of them.