So I Picked a Sexist Industry. . .
a piece of Cory Ryan's mind
I sometimes sit at the kitchen table dreaming about everything I want to do in film. But then, I always second-guess myself. It is not natural for me to second-guess myself, so I wonder how all this happened, how I somehow lost confidence in myself. It's not the long hours, the criticism or lack of money; it's how I have been treated as a female on sets.
An example: let's say a supervisor is being hired to be the boss for a group of males who have always worked for other men. It can hardly be denied that the sex of the candidate is relevant in the hiring process. In this particular case, it is the attitudes of the employees and habit that determine who is hired. Unfortunately, almost all film crews are used to working for males.
You will find more female producers than directors because they are "good organizers by nature," or so I've been told. The premenstrual cycle has been proven to create "irrational and bitchy directors," or so I've been told. "And honestly," my last grip told me, "most men don't like working for women." They believe that their mother's gift of a third leg entitles them to be above a woman in the career hierarchy, regardless of experience or knowledge.
The majority of big studios that funds scripts are run by males, who in turn hire male directors and male crews. To be politically correct, it's okay to have a woman on the set, as long as she doesn't have too much power.
Why else do you think you see so many ditzy female roles? Maybe we can make a strong, aggressive female lead, but let's make sure she's wearing a tight black dress with her hair perfect and her breasts hanging out while she chases the bad guys! I'm sure that was not a woman's idea of accurately portraying her gender. But that's a whole different can of worms. The point here is that women are held down and these stereotypes persist because there are not enough women in power in this industry.
Well, maybe there aren't enough women interested in filmmaking. I've thought about that and I'd say that's not it. It's that the bosses are skeptical about hiring too many women. I'm sick of showing up on every set to find the only other women present are the make-up artists and the clothing designers. Women are being held down and being put into traditional feminine roles, as they are in many other male-dominated industries. I mean, how could a woman direct an action film? They don't know anything about guns, explosions or how to cut together a good chase sequence. Besides, you can't make jokes about Dolly Parton's chest and just be a boy in the presence of a woman.
Well, why don't you just try being a respectful human being to begin with? Sorry that might put a damper on your chauvinist humor.
Let me just give you an example of my experiences. One day in New York particularly stands out in my mind. I was working on a feature as a pyrotechnic assistant. I was on a crew of eight, all men except myself. Into the second week of shooting, I got assigned the job of wiring a big explosion across a bar. As I'm sitting on the back of the truck, I sifted through the tool box to find some wire strippers. My colleague from Brooklyn looks at me, looks at the tool in my hand and says, "Honey, [he knows my name by this point!] do you know how to use those or would you prefer some help from a man with experience?" They're fucking wire strippers for God's sake! He must have assumed I fucked the directory to get the job, because everyone knows women don't know how to use tools.
If the process continues as it does now, the real voices of women will continue to be suppressed through exclusion from the industry. So next time you rent or go to a movie, check out the film credits and you'll see what I mean. It's the same old story and it's really getting old.