Something extraordinary happened this year at the golden globes. All the attendees at the event turned up in black clothing with some wearing a #TimesUp pin. While dress codes are nothing new, the black at the golden globes signifies something far bigger and much more important than matching clothes.
The Inequality in Hollywood
It is no secret that Hollywood has a patriarchal system of work allocation where females are not only paid far less than their male counterparts, they are also systematically prevented from reaching important positions. A study done in 2016 found that women comprise only 28% of the behind-the-scene personalities like creators, directors, writers, producers, technicians etc.
On the other hand, while we are far too familiar with the story of the brave dude who will fight any villain to save his family, there aren’t enough movies to represent the women’s side. Hollywood grossly underrepresent women. They are often shown as helpless creatures at the mercy of their lovers or fathers and not as independent thinking persons. While females comprise 50% of the population on earth, the amount of female centric movies is nowhere near that percentage.
In 2017, while the highest paid male actor in Hollywood earned a whopping $68 million, the female counterpart earned only $26 million. There no logic behind this. The amount of work put in by actors doesn’t determine the pay for work. That way, both the male and female stars would be paid equally for movies where the screen presence of them are equal. Nor is the payment determined by star power. Many female actors with millions of followers are paid less than less popular male stars. There seems to be only one explanation: Hollywood’s system of wage allowance is broken. It reflects the misogyny so deeply ingrained in our society.
Hollywood is just one example. Our own Bollywood, and any other film industry for that matter, is biased towards male actors. And other major film industries show same statistical patterns.
Sexual Assault on Women
In the last many weeks, numerous cases of sexual harassment against women have come to light. Among the accused are many powerful and eminent Hollywood celebrities which includes Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Woody Allen. It is becoming clear that powerful people in Hollywood have been preying on women for a long time. Only because of the few brave women who came out and made their stories public that Hollywood finally opened its eyes.
So far, it was not conducive for victims to seek justice because people in powerful positions either kept their mounts shut or were complicit in these acts themselves. What changed in the last few months was the rise of the various feminist movements like #MeToo that focused on gender equality and legal justice for Sexual Assault Victims. Another such movement that shook Hollywood to its roots was #TimesUp.
On New Year’s Day, more than 300 eminent women in Hollywood published a public letter in New York Times and formally unveiled the #TimesUp movement. Some of the important initiatives taken under the movement are
1. Helping sexual assault victims financially to fight for justice.
2. Raising awareness about sexual assault and encouraging women to speak out against any form of harassment.
3. Advocating for gender parity in workplaces.
4. Creating legislation to effectively tackle sexual assault.
Since then, hundreds of Hollywood A-Listers have joined the movement. This finally brings us to the title of the article: the black at the Golden Globes. The attendees at the award ceremony, most of whom are members of #TimesUp wore black to offer their solidarity to the cause of gender equality and justice. It was at the same time an acknowledgment of the prevailing gender inequality in Hollywood, and a unanimous statement against it.
Over to You
Everything I have said above applies to Bollywood as well. While certain practices like the objectification of women and pay gap between actors have been criticized in the past; a full-fledged movement is yet to come. We all hope that day is not too far away. Do you think Bollywood should also follow suit? Post your comments below.