Hollywood and mass media have always had it’s fair share of controversy: racism at the Oscars, Harvey Weinstein harassments, and drugged up actors. Ironically, the most exploited issue is the most accepted one: gender inequality. It’s no secret that media loves to slut shame and ridicule female celebrities, but rarely ever for male celebrities. Remember the Lewinsky and Clinton scandal? While Monica Lewinsky became labeled a young temptress, Bill Clinton was let off the hook because “boys will be boys.”
Media shapes societies ideologies by creating gender roles. Women get viewed as sex objects but countering that they must keep up modesty to the public eye. In Western media, heck even world-wide media, half-naked women get exploited for marketing schemes, but women are slut-shamed for public “nip slips” in magazines. Interviews focus on beauty and looks, and never the female celebrities accomplishments. Men, on the other hand, are seen as dominant and intelligent beings. Put two very successful celebrities who are dating together, and the headline for them is most likely to say Johnny Depp and his wife, instead of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
A woman is always brought down a level when in comparison to a man despite working just as hard. If a woman’s nudes get leaked to the public they are called indecent, but if a males nudes get leaked it becomes the next casual joke on a talk show. Mass media controls every narrative we see in a way that will always discredit a woman no matter how successful they are. You could win 8 Nobel Peace Prizes and 6 Oscars, but if you're not skinny, sexy, and have a pretty face media doesn’t even bat an eye at your work. Women in media are more likely to get praised for having a “perfect” body before they receive the appraisal for a nomination.
The way media displays women ingrains insecurities in those reading and watching it; out of the 8 million people with eating disorders, 90% are young girls and women. Media expects and pressures women to reach an unattainable standard; be successful, but remember it doesn’t truly matter unless you embody the ideal woman. Oh, and also be sexy but not too sexy because then you’re branded a “slut.”
Hollywood on the other hand, not so open with their intentions. There is a huge lack of representation of women behind and in front of the camera. Growing up, especially when you're young, you don’t notice the lack of female faces on your screen. There are plenty of people talking about the gender segregation, but media seems to bury these stories under the rug. Tell me this- how many female filmmakers do you think won an oscar? How much more is the top male union executive making in comparison to the female? What percentage of Hollywood executives are male? What percentage of women have a speaking role in films?
You probably don’t know the answer to these questions because media, hollywood, and society are male dominated. Stories and statistics like these don’t survive even a week because lack of female representation isn’t taboo, but it should be. Only one female filmmaker has won an oscar before. The top male union executive makes 67% more than the top female union executive. 83% of Hollywood executives are male (92% white). Only 30% of women have a speaking role in films.
Really look at these numbers, they should shock you. By instinct you're probably searching for a logical explanation for this, but there isn’t. In universities and colleges there is an (almost) equal ratio of female to male film/media majors. So how does this ratio drop so drastically when they become graduates? We can chalk it up to blatant sexism within the buisness.
For generations society has had a lack of faith in a female's ability to do something great, and it’s about time this stigma changed. Little girls need women in the filmmaking business to look up to and not only film business but media as well. We are just as capable of becoming directors, new anchors, producers, or editors as men are.
Thankfully, although a slow and gradual change, there are more outspoken actors and actress’ discussing these inequalities; women and men like Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, and Mark Ruffalo. The more we talk about it and the more we push for female produced work, the more chances we give for the younger generation of girls to grow up seeing a face they can relate and connect with.