By this point, it’s been well established that women who work in film have a tougher time of it than men. Even so, when the Tumblr account Shit People Say to Women Directors recently debuted, it quickly went viral. Many of its crowdsourced anecdotes involved terrible tales of extreme sexism and harassment, but just as eye-opening were the smaller stories, the more common microaggressions that female directors (and producers like me) must deal with on a regular basis. These minor offenses are often committed by people who have no idea that they’re doing it, but they can add up, contributing to the cloud of sexism that will continue to choke Hollywood until female filmmakers — and a more enlightened industry — are able to bat it back. I spoke to some of those filmmakers to get a better sense of the forms of discrimination they typically face; these four examples were the ones most commonly cited.
THE BABYSITTING BARRIER
I recently executive-produced The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama (who also directed Girlfight and Jennifer’s Body). Karyn told me about a previous movie, where she arranged a meeting with a potential cinematographer and then found that her male producers insisted they be present, too — “itself a form of condescension,” she said. This sort of “babysitting” happens all the time with female filmmakers, who aren’t granted the same level of trust in their executive decisions as their male counterparts. Kusama’s meeting with the cinematographer went from bad to worse, though, when the man told her, “How terrible for your child that you’re leaving him behind to direct this movie.” Never mind the fact that this man had kids of his own!
“I wanted to ask how his poor children felt about being abandoned by Daddy when he was away shooting for months at a time,” recalled Kusama, “but I was comforted by the shocked and bewildered expressions on my male producers’ faces. Though I initially resented feeling ‘babysat’ by them, it was gratifying to see them bear witness to the kind of sabotage, unearned superiority, and misogyny that women have to tolerate all too often.”
That babysitting barrier extends to deal-making, too. One of the most revealing stories to come out of the Sony hack was how women were paid less than their male counterparts — neither Amy Adams nor Jennifer Lawrence got as many backend points on American Hustle as their co-star Jeremy Renner, for example, although they were indisputably more important to the film’s success. According to entertainment attorney Elsa Ramo, the babysitting barrier contributes to this disparity in compensation. “There is an inherent overprotection, almost ‘victimization,’ of female talent by their agents, managers, and lawyers that you just don’t see with male talent,” she observed. “It’s as if the reps are trying to shield women from the intricacies of the business deal.”…
Check out the rest of this article from Vulture.