I read an article the other day by director of recent release The Spy Who Dumped Me, Susanna Fogel, who brought up the interesting idea that maybe we are over-saturating people with the message of gender equality. Everywhere you look these days there are people making a point of pointing out that its still not equal, that sexism still exists, that men are dominating the film industry. Is it wearing out the market? Are we tired of hearing the same old message over and over like a broken record?
And then I think to myself, but this is why I started this blog. To get the message out. To unite with my fellow women in the film industry and to openly proclaim that we are not happy with how things are and have been for years.
But there is no point in campaigning when nobody is listening to you.
I remember when I started this blog and I had no views, no visits, all my insights were showing that nobody was listening. Nobody cared and it was hard to keep going. Even when I knew that I was an unknown source and that it would take time to gain traction, it still didn’t feel great knowing that nobody was listening to the message. And I think this is how it has felt for so many women in the film and television industry for many years. This is why MeToo was so prevalent, because finally people were listening and it was powerful.
A lot has happened post MeToo. We have documentaries being made like Half The Picture and the crowd funded film Nevertheless, who’s director I featured on this blog at the beginning of this year. Women only panels discussing the issues within the industry have happened all around the world. More women have been attached to big budget films, like Black Widow and A Wrinkle In Time, when perhaps they would not have been considered before. And all of this is because the message was being heard. We want change!
So you might think, well great change is happening maybe we should stop shouting now?
I just finished watching Season 5 of Orange Is The New Black and *SPOILER ALERT* the way that Tasty negotiates the demands of the prisoners during their riot is aligning very much with how the gender equality issue seems to be unfolding. Whilst she manages to successfully negotiate into getting most things on their list the one thing she truly wants, and the whole trigger of the riot, is denied her. That’s when everything else gets taken away and she is back to ground zero…or worse, if you watch the show. I’m worried that maybe all these positive changes are just us negotiating the lesser half of the demands when what we really want will never be put on the table. Will it take one person that shouts the message too loud to make it all come crumbling down? When they get bored of women talking about sexism will any progress just get reversed?
So maybe its time to start thinking of what we want, what we really want, and how to make it achievable. Some of the main points that Susanna made in her article were about just treating men and women the same when it comes to labelling. For some reason we have entered a time where if something is made by a woman, or features a woman, that has to be pointed out. But instead of a “female driven” action comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me should really just be called an action comedy. Susanna Fogel isn’t a “female” director, she is just a director. And I have been guilty of this labelling even in my own writing. For so long women have been underrepresented that drawing attention to the fact that these directors were women was a way of making them seen. But now I feel the focus has to be on just making it normal, which is how we ultimately achieve equality.
The scales have been tipped for a long time and to resemble some sort of balance it feels as though we must saturate news feeds with women doing incredible things, and don’t get me wrong, women should still be celebrated in this way, but it should be normal. A man gets an award, Great! A women gets an award, Great! No special news story about how its amazing “considering she’s a women” just the fact that they have done something amazing should be enough.
I’m not going to stop writing my blog because the last thing I think that will be helpful is to go silent. But let’s not lose the negotiations because we are blinded by our fight for justice. It’s time to normalise the fact that women exist in this industry. Change the tactics so people never stop listening.