A Note From the Trenches

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary women in Hollywood who have paved quite a path for themselves. But as much as they’ve helped change the landscape for the women that come after them, they also do their best to bring them down. For a young woman in the film industry, trying to make a name for herself, whether it be on a studio lot, casting couch, in a production office or on a set, there is still that feeling of “there’s only one seat at the table for a woman and that seat’s going to be mine.” The camaraderie is almost non-existent.

I’ve worked in several aspects of the industry since I was a teenager. Now, in my late 20’s, I find myself even more jaded of other woman, especially those just above me. I used to love working for female bosses, I thought of many of them as my mentors, but the harder I worked, the more I was recognized, and that resulted in backlash from those women or put them on the defensive. I’m currently working on a big-budget film helmed by a female 201925all-about-eve-posters auteur, with a crew heavily tipping in favor of the double x chromosome. You would think, “yay for women!” And, at first, I had that glimmer of hope, maybe this would be different. But in fact, it’s not.

It’s disappointing and a let down. I notice woman of a certain generation are not necessarily ready and willing to help mentor or groom the next generation in the same way that our male counterparts are. As a result, we’re blowing some of our biggest chances on ego. Instead of applauding for our gender, we’re thinking of ways to undermine each other. It’s a sad state, but one that I’m confident can be righted, if there were more women reaching out or reaching down. I want to think the best of my generation. I want us to be the first to elect a female president, see higher numbers of women in CEO positions, running studios, helming everything from dramas to comedies and action flicks. I know it’s possible, it’s just a matter of finding the ones that are the real feminists, the real supporters of our gender.

I know despite how others act, I will continue to look behind me, not our of fear of who maybe on my heels, but to see what talented young woman I can bring with me, to stand along side me as a colleague, a feminist, and a force of nature. I wish everyone thought the same way. Imagine what we could accomplish if they did.
–Downtown

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One response to “A Note From the Trenches

  1. I thoroughly agree. I am a jaded woman starting my 6th decade, and I have been pummeled by fellow females. In my late forties, I returned to school and received my undergrad and masters in four years and my doctorate (PHD) in three. Instead of being applauded, I was told by my classmates (all who were half my age and women) that I acted like I was better than everyone else. I was also excluded from any of the study groups. This was primarily due to their inability to do the work demanded of them. In other words, if they couldn’t, then I shouldn’t be able to do it either. In addition, a female professor informed me that I was too old to pursue higher education since I would not be able to get tenure. Every time I interviewed for a position (I had only two opportunities), I was denied the job. One man from a hiring committee told me, “Sorry, if it were up to me you would be hired, but the women objected.” On the other, I knew I was sunk when they asked for my driver’s license (required for reimbursement of my travel expenses). Of course, this was an underhanded method of determining my birth date. Ageism and gender bias – I could not win!

    Women need to wake up and take notice. The Equal Rights Amendment – intended to eliminate sex as a basis for any decisions made by a state of the United States – was NOT ratified by Congress. In fact, most of the legal rights women have been able to secure stem from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to that, women had the right to vote and could retain custody of their children upon a divorce. Women were also permitted to keep any property they acquired before marriage. That’s basically it. On the whole, these laws are rather insubstantial considering the rights of men. A cute little lesson that highlights the discrepancies that still exist is featured in a lesson that compares the rights of ancient women in Egypt to their counterparts of the 19th century: http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/form6.html.

    Unfortunately, since women are still ranked lower on the socio-economic scale, many have a tendency to begrudge others that do better than they. Moreover, we still have to contend with the religious edict that proclaims women should play a subservient role; that we should defer to the man for all major decisions. The prevailing attitude that exists today is that women should work only to supplement their husband’s income. And, what makes interesting day time talk show topics? Working moms versus say-at-home moms. Listen to them chastise and demean each other!

    Nope, until women change there is no hope for real, substantive change.

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