In almost any industry, women can experience every sexism. In my industry, the film and television industry, I sometimes feel I’ve stepped back in time. Early on in my career, I was less confident in myself and I let a lot of things slide that I wouldn’t do these days. I can remember someone more senior to me making some absurdly sexual comment, and I was absolutely mortified. I knew it was inappropriate, but I didn’t feel I could call him out on it. It tore me up inside for weeks, until the next one happened, and then my focus shifted to that.
My PhD research is about gender disparity in television production, so I’ve done an awful lot of reading into this particular sector of the workforce. Just because I reference it more, doesn’t mean that I don’t realise it is just as bad in other industries.
In film, there are special and certain gendered things that kind of slip under the radar. For example, if you were to mention ‘The Director’, the person on the other end of the phone would almost certainly respond with, “Who is he?”. Same goes for the Director of Photography, and often the writer. Sometimes the Producer. I was once in a Production Meeting where I was one of two women out of twenty people. Afterwards, one of the producers told me he was happy to see ‘a woman in a position of authority’, like it was something completely f*cking radical. And it drove me nuts. And don’t get me started on people calling the production team, ‘the girls in the office’. Those people work longer hours than anyone else, and often for less money.
But a few years ago, I bought myself a feminist t-shirt with the idea that I would wear it once a week. It was kind of my little rebellion – dipping my toe into the pond of out and proud feminism. I was a strong feminist in my private life, but I had been too afraid to wear it on my sleeve at work.
In the age of #MeToo and the reckoning that is starting to come upon Hollywood, people are more aware, for the most part. Unfortunately, less than a year ago, I heard of someone on a project making a pro-rape joke to a group of crew members. He didn’t understand what was so un-funny about that. This person was shocked when he was called out on that, as well as the fact that people, women and men, felt uncomfortable working around him.
So I wore the t-shirt, and I bought more t-shirts, and I bought them for other women I worked with. The comments we would get were varied – sometimes it was just, “Nice shirt”. Sometimes it was, “Uh-oh, better watch out, the feminists are here!”
After working with one man for several weeks, he said to me, “I was going to tell you you looked pretty the other night, but, you know. I’m not allowed to do that now.”
That ‘now’ was what pissed me off the most. In what universe had it ever been okay to comment on the visual appearance of virtual strangers? We’re not here for a f*cking beauty contest. It’s great if you want to get dressed up for work. I know I feel better in myself if I wear makeup and feel like my outfit is awesome. But I’m sure as sh*t not doing it so some sexist d*cks can comment on it.
Being a Witch is an interesting position – there is still some anti-male and anti-trans sentiment among the witchcraft community in certain sectors, with this idea that the ‘Witch’ has to be a woman. I don’t subscribe to that whatsoever. I don’t think you have to dress a certain way to be a witch, and I don’t think you have to have been born a woman. Personally, I welcome witches from any background, religion, gender, race, sexual identity, gender identity, planet. As long as you don’t steal other people’s culture, or appropriate their traditions, then welcome.
And for me, I was just feeling it today. So I put on my Feminist Friday t-shirt.
The golden rule, I guess, is: just don’t be an asshole.