Maybe I’m living under a metaphorical rock.
I mean, it’s totally conceivable. I work, on average, around 60 hours a week, and spend my weekends making sure to take care of the day-to-day mundanities involved with being an adult. I like to think I’m not living under a rock, though. I read the news, I’m pretty active on Facebook.
But every now and again, I see something posted that makes my stomach drop and my breath catch in my throat.
It’s almost always something about feminism and women’s rights. And most of the time, it’s coming from someone, usually male, in my industry. It’s so easy for me to forget that I work in an industry that is largely comprised of a male workforce. What does surprise me is how conservative they are (most – certainly not all), and how casually sexist they are. I’ve seen posts condemning global warming as a hoax, how “Obamacare” is the worst thing to happen to this country in the history of ever, and most recently, posts mocking and deriding Rose McGowan’s speaking out about sexism in Hollywood.
What set me off today was seeing an artist I greatly respect and admire post the tired old trope of “if feminists want true equality, they’d better expect to get hit back if they get up in a man’s face and hit him first.”
Hypothetically speaking, I guess I understand the thought. If someone were attacking me, I would certainly defend myself, gender be damned. The problem I have is that there’s still the idea that we’ve achieved true equality in all other areas already. I mean, I’m not even going to touch the issue with violence there.
This post minimizes all the other areas in which women are far from equal. We get paid less. We don’t have control over our own bodies, whether walking down the street or choosing whether or not to carry a child to term. We’re subject to constant scrutiny, no matter what decision we make. Not only is there retributive violence in the context of a fight to worry about, but there is a constant fear of violence inherent in the female experience (to say nothing of the fears of violence for transwomen – I cannot speak to their experiences, however). In my personal experience, I have to work twice as hard to prove myself as a viable professional in my field, simply because there aren’t as many women doing it. When we name off the greats, they’re all men, with few exceptions. I’ve encountered the attitude of “girls can’t do that,” and I’ve worked personally to dispel that myth. It’s still frustrating.
Even more frustrating, when women popped up in the comment thread on this post, expressing their discomfort with the sentiment, they were shouted down and discounted and were told their reactions were “part of the problem.” This person professed to loving and respecting women.
Earlier, I got into an argument with another male artist on the topic of abortion. He expressed he believed that it should be illegal for a woman to terminate a pregnancy without the consent of the man. I am of the school of thought that a woman deserves bodily autonomy, as much as anyone else, including in the context of pregnancy. A person cannot be forced to donate blood against their will. After death, a person who has not volunteered to be an organ donor cannot have their organs harvested for transplant. Yet somehow, the instant a woman conceives, she loses the right to do with her body what she desires. I said all of the above nearly verbatim, and was told it’s different when there’s a human life in question and that I was splitting hairs.
I guess what’s so mind-blowing to me is that I associate those in creative fields with a more liberal viewpoint. This could be the result of being born in and living in (for the most part) liberal, arts-focused cities. I was born in the Bay Area, and spent a majority of my life in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up around actors, painters, sculptors, classical musicians, writers, photographers… the whole gamut. Maybe it was just the particular people my parents chose to associate with, as much as the issue now could be the people I choose to surround myself with.
It’s easy to see that sexism is still rampant in Hollywood. All one has to do is look at the representation of women as characters in a film to see that. It’s also a well-known fact that has been reported on frequently as of late that the majority of directors in Hollywood are male, and that female-helmed films are a rarity. Even behind the scenes, there is a major disparity in gender representation.
I have to wonder if the attitudes I’ve encountered just by using social media are representative of the whole of the industry, or if I’ve just lucked out and found the specific ones who hold these disheartening ideas.