How Bad is Hollywood for Women Behind the Camera?

by Lily Allen

The new Hollywood Boys Club tumblr reads like the Guerrilla Girls do L.A.… and realize women face the same struggle for opportunity and exposure in film as they do in the art world.

Moderated by mysterious online entity Operation Anonymiss, the tumblr features posts that point to an entrenched gender gap (make that gulf) behind the scenes of, quite possibly, your favorite TV shows and movies. From executive committees, studio management, writing, directing, award nominees, and industry “hot lists,” Hollywood is one huge, self-perpetuating sausage fest. Hollywood Boys Club turns viewers’ scrutiny from the women on screen to the men behind the camera, with surprising facts like the following:

1. The Writers Guild of America 2012-13 list of qualified speakers for “The Craft of Writing for Film and Television” includes one woman, much like Georgia’s GOP Senate Caucus. Other similarities? A whole lot of white…

2. There's a larger proportion of women soldiers on active duty than women who sold spec scripts between 2010 and 2012 (14.5 percent compared with 9 percent).

3. Every winner and every nominee for the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for “Best Cinematography” ever has been a man.

4. Shows like Veep, Californication, and Psych hired no women writers for the 2011-2012 season, while fan favorites that have hired no women directors ever include Big Bang Theory, 24, Deadwood, The X-Files, The Sopranos, and Seinfeld (all but The Sopranos feature over 100 episodes).

5. Lena Dunham hired only one other woman (Claudia Weill) to direct a single episode of season two of Girls. Oh, the irony...

Less surprising have been trolls’ responses to Hollywood Boys Club on sites like Huffington Post, which mostly come in the form of:

1. “But Lena Dunham and Jenji Kohan exist so what’s the problem?”

13 of the Hollywood Reporter’s top 50 show runners are women. Does that seem like a logical proportion based on, I don’t know, the near 50/50 gender split in our country?

2. “But no woman would write something like 24, hence, why 24 had no woman directors.”

Could we be more gender normative? Even if women were only interested in hearts, stars, and doilies (how do you explain all the women who watch 24?), writers are, you know, professionals. They write about things from other points of view, that they’ve never experienced — unless you’re telling me Breaking Bad is autobiographical? Following that logic, Lifetime would be full of lady writers and directors, but alas, as the tumblr points out, America’s second highest-rated women’s channel features films directed, for the most part, by men.

3. The ever amusing: “But no one would complain about a show with no white guys — that’s reverse racism/sexism!”

Go find me that show, demonstrate how it creates a history of systemized, institutional oppression of white dudes, and then go away.

Hollywood Boys Club suggests viewers effectively boycott the studios, movies, and shows that so blatantly exclude women, but I’m not sure this is tenable. After all, the whole point of the site is to show how pervasive the gender gap really is in the film biz — the only way to effectively boycott would be to sell your T.V. It’s what we do, more than what we don’t do, that can challenge the system. Be sure to support women’s projects at the box office (particularly independent films). Encourage any women creatives you know in their battle for representation. If you know any dudes in film, share Hollywood Boys Club, and raise some consciousness from within.