"Sh*t People Say To Women Directors" Calls Out The Unbelievable Sexism Facing Women In The Film Industry
The statistics for women in film are dismal: According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, in 2014, women made up only 7 percent of the directors of the year’s top 250 grossing films. In fact, women accounted for only 17 percent of all the major behind-the-scenes roles for those films (including directors, executive producers, producers, writers, editors, and cinematographers). The underrepresentation of women both behind and in front of the camera, and the deeply ingrained, systemic gender biases that both fuel this underrepresentation and make it hard to combat, have led to “Shit People Say To Women Directors,” a Tumblr dedicated to calling out sexism in filmmaking.
Created by a group of anonymous bloggers involved in the film industry, SPSTWD features stories from people who work in all aspects of film production, from directors and producers, to writers and PAs. According to the website,
SHIT PEOPLE SAY TO WOMEN DIRECTORS is an anonymous open blog for any female-identifying individual to submit personal accounts of absurd, offensive, threatening, or downright fucked-up “shit” people have said to you while working in the film business. … This space is designed for catharsis and to raise awareness about the barriers women face in the film industry.
The site creators explain that the website is intended as a way of sparking conversation about what can seem like an insurmountable problem:
Despite several recent revealing studies about the enormous gender disparity in film production, things aren’t getting any better. Something needs to happen. Shit People Say To Women Directors is a kind of crisis intervention. We realize a blog isn’t going to resolve this complex issue, no single effort can. But it’s starting point, and a long overdue conversation that absolutely needs to happen.
The blog offers an eye-opening look at instances of sexism, large and small, in the world of film, from male execs simply refusing to work with female directors, to support staff openly questioning the competence of women in positions of authority. The stories are equal parts maddening and depressing, and will hopefully bring about conversations that will lead to meaningful change.
Here are just a few of the anonymous stories and quotes that people have submitted to the website:
“You are going to have to let me know when you have your period, so I know when to expect your work quality to be an issue.”— My supervisor I had just started my first film job out of college.
It's all about sex:
“How did you get so far so fast, besides the fact that you give good head?”
— Asked by an ICM agent during a lunch meeting.
I’m an editor. A director once informed me that sitting next to me all day made him want to look at porn.
"Make sure to use a headshot with cleavage in it. We want to sell YOU as much as we want to sell your films."
"Oh honey, it’s not me, but how would I tell the crew they would be taking orders from a woman? And even if I could get around that, how will I convince them that you can direct action?"
-- said by an episodic executive producer at [a major studio] for a high-action pilot.
"The reason Kathryn Bigelow is so successful is because she directs like a man."
A producer once told me in an interview that he wasn’t going to hire me because he had already hired a woman once before.
I was directing/producing a film about glaciers — doing interviews with scientists on top of a glacier, and the (male) DP I hired refused to frame the shot the way I asked, because “your boss (male, of course) would never want it framed that way.” I can land the job, the interviews and get him to the top of the glacier, but he still thought I didn’t know shit.
Had a big trade announcement and in our first meeting with myself (director) and my husband (co-writer) the head of the studio said, “I know this will make you mad but I prefer to talk to your husband.”
It was the end of the day and I was waiting for a shot to be lit. I asked the gaffer if there was anything I could help with to speed things up, and he just said, “Nah, just be pretty. It’s good for the crew to have a pretty girl around.”Being both director and producer on the show, it’s good to know that I was at my most helpful “being pretty.
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