Good morning, Rebels.
As I write this (I schedule my blog posts in advance) it’s International Women’s Day here in Los Angeles.
And I want to share an example of how to totally, totally screw up on that day.
There’s a comedian named Jenny Collier who was scheduled to do a gig in a venue in Haslemere. And yesterday she tweeted a screen capture of an email that she got from the venue. It says:
“Hi, Jenny, I’m really sorry, but the venue have decided they don’t want too many women on the bill and unfortunately we need to take you out of this one.”
Okay, just…what. WHAT?
Listen, the problem isn’t that the venue decided to pull her from the show. I’ve never seen her comedy and I couldn’t find any videos of her online. So if she happened not to be funny or if they just overbooked and needed to pull someone and chose her at random, that would be one thing.
But they took her out because she was a woman and they don’t want too many women on the bill.
What the frak kind of decision making is this? You’re a comedy club. Your job is to provide humor to people who come in and pay for it. Your job is not to protect people from “the womens.”
So for International Women’s Day, here’s a handy little guide on when it’s appropriate to judge someone based on gender.
- If you’re wondering, “Should I call this individual Sir or Madam,” it’s appropriate to make that decision based on their gender.
- It’s okay to decide whether you’re attracted to someone or not, in accordance with your own sexuality, by taking their gender into consideration.
That’s the list. Other than that, IT’S FREAKING NOT OKAY.
That being said, I do think we need to make more of an effort to find and highlight examples of exceptional women and their achievements.
Yesterday I made an effort in this direction. I went on social media and asked for everyone’s favorite female author of all time. I took all the names I was given and went on Amazon and found that author’s most popular book, and then I put it on my Amazon wish list to purchase later.
Also, whenever I’m putting together a film, I’ll try to find as many roles as I can for exceptional females that I know, both in front of and behind the camera.
Some people think this is a bad idea, usually the same people that think Affirmative Action is a bad idea. They think that we should just look for GOOD BOOKS, regardless of the author’s gender. They think that I should hire the first crew member who comes to mind, not actively try to recruit women to work on my films.
And I can see the point of this kind of thinking. By specifically seeking out women, I’m swinging the bias in the other direction, and might pass up men who are also good at their jobs or good at writing. By seeking to promote female exceptionalism, I’m by definition judging based on gender.
And this seems like it could sort of be true, except of course it’s flawed, because as in all things, the truth resists simplicity.
By the way, every time I say that I have to mail John Green a quarter.
Rebels, that kind of thinking would be correct if we lived in a world where gender bias wasn’t an issue, but unfortunately we don’t.
A broad survey of book review sites was conducted recently that reveals about 80% of book reviewers in the most major magazines and websites are male. And overall, about 75% of the books reviewed were books that were written by males.
I’ve already blogged about the state of women in the film industry, but in case you missed it — it’s abysmal. Despite comprising more than 50% of the population, women are less than a fifth of the directors and other “above-the-line” executive positions. And they’re less than a third of speaking characters in films.
We’re not living in a world where women are treated fairly. And because of that, it can be intimidating for a woman trying to get into the field she’s interested in.
So by actively seeking out excellent female authors and reviewing their work, and by filling as many positions as I can with women who are great at their jobs, I’m trying to swing the pendulum in the other direction.
Trust me, when the world is as fair to women as it is to men, I’ll stop trying to fix the problem I see in society. But until then, don’t complain to me about International Women’s Day.
Thanks Rebels, if you want to tell me YOUR favorite female author, put her name and your favorite book in the comments below and I’ll add it to my Amazon wish list.
And I’ll see you soon.