Gender Inequality

8 quotes on sexism in the film industry

Ceri Parker
Previously Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
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Gender Inequality

The actress Jennifer Lawrence has lashed out at sexism in the movie industry in an online essay. Following last year’s leak of Sony emails, which revealed she was paid less than male co-stars, the Oscar winner finally broke her silence.

The Hunger Games star openly acknowledged that her earning woes as a multimillionaire were “not relatable”. But while Hollywood actresses may be in a glitzy position of privilege, their experiences reflect broader stereotypes which hold women back at every level.

Lawrence joins a cohort of celebrities including Meryl Streep and Emma Watson who have lambasted the corrosive effect of sexism in their industry.

Here are some key quotes from Lawrence’s essay, which you can read in full in the actress and screenwriter Lena Dunham’s magazine.

I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me).

I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’ … This is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue. Are we socially conditioned to behave this way? … Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?

I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likeable!

Earlier this week, Meryl Streep revealed that she still encountered sexism, even as one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses. In an interview about her new film, Suffragette, for the Today programme on Britain’s Radio 4, she said: “I experience [sexism] and I become a tiny bit enraged … It’s not just show business; it is in every single enterprise.” In comments reported by the Telegraph, she added:

Women’s films don’t sell, they tell you … There is this ancient wisdom that is difficult to move through. It is to do with the distribution of films and how they are financed. It’s about who is choosing the films that are put out to the multiplexes.

Most of the time in my career I have been surrounded by men. When I did the French Lieutenant’s Woman, there were women in hair and makeup and that was it. It was an all-male enterprise.

For a long time it was difficult to convince the people in a position to make a decision, who were mostly male, that [the suffragette movement] was interesting to anyone.

Increasingly we realize that women’s issues are also men’s issues and it’s our job to right the balance.

Hollywood’s most eloquent campaigner is arguably the Harry Potter star Emma Watson, whose 2014 UN speech on gender equality has been viewed more than 7 million times. Every single sentence of her speech is quotable, but here is what she has to say about feminism and entertainment:

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents – but the boys were not.

When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.

Author: Ceri Parker is a commissioning editor for Forum:Agenda

Image: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the X-Men: Days of Future Past world movie premiere in New York. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

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Gender InequalityMedia, Entertainment and Sport
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