On twitter, they have this thing called 6 word stories. The point is exactly as it sounds, tell a story that people can immediately recognize in 6 words or less. I have written a ridiculous amount of posts on the meaning of “woman” in women’s studies or the feminist blogosphere or even in the mainstream feminist movement from the perspective of a feminist scholar and activists, as have so many of my blogging peers and intellectual goddesses/foremothers. So I thought I’d respond to a new post, on a highly decorated blog, that claims female directors just need to clit up and take their rightful place in Hollywood instead of complaining about female exclusion, bad scripts, and chauvinist directors, with 6 words:
When you say women, mean everyone.
You can read my series on black female directors and the extensive body of work they have done while being largely shut out of Hollywood by clicking on the African American Herstory page at the top of the blog. You can also read about many female directors who have refused to define their success by Hollywood inclusion in my movie reviews. And if you are feeling really ambitious, you can read Yvonne Welbone’s dissertation turned documentary and website Sisters in Cinema or give money to Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project.
There are a lot of women who have spent their whole lives working on making films while shut out of Hollywood, including Maya Angelou. Some of those women were critically acclaimed directors or even won awards with no subsequent embrace from either Hollywood or the “new female power” in Hollywood. (Though many others were aided by the now replaced female studio exec at one of the big 5 studios in 1980s-90s) More than that, there are a lot of women who would never define their success by how many Hollywood films they have made. Do you really think Daughters of the Dust would be recognizable if Paramount had funded it?
And the next time you get the urge to write a post about “a great women’s movie” or “cool women directors” or “what women need to do to be successful in Hollywood” etc. ask yourself:
- is there any diversity amongst the women depicted in this film or their stories?
- If there are diverse women, do they fill non-stereotypical roles?
- does this film’s female director or producer hire or work with a diverse groups of women behind the scenes on this film?
- does this film actually show empowered women?
- Is their empowerment bought on the backs of marginalized women or other marginalized groups or include jokes or stereotypes about marginalized people, including women?
After all Katherine Hiegl’s latest anti-feminist disaster romcom was produced by a woman and written by a woman, tho directed by a man. Honestly, I’m grateful none of those women thought about anyone but people who look like them to be in it. However, I still wouldn’t call that film a Hollywood female success story anymore than I would call the Drew Barrymore backed He’s Just Not That In To You, with its female screen writers, female producers, and female star power behind it & also based on a book co-written by a woman a feminist bildungsroman. Not only do both of these films posit an outdated-sexist and heterosexist view of women but the latter not only includes a pack of gaggling gay men but repeated racist encounters between Latino construction workers and a rich white woman losing her husband to infidelity meant to highlight her breakdown not her racially tinged elitism and its pack of gaggling gay men.
I could give a synopsis of many of the failures of both fluff films like these and the more “serious feminist” films that have failed to think beyond the navels of the privileged folks behind them, but I do that enough on this blog as it is. Instead I go back to my six word story:
When you say women, mean everyone.
or if you prefer:
If you’re a feminist, mean it.