Powered by Women

There’s a famous scene on The Mary Tyler Moore Show when Mary asks her boss why her predecessor got paid $50 per week more than she did. And he replies: “Because he’s a man.” Mary goes on to ask him if that’s really the only reason and he says, “Yes, it has nothing to do with your work.” She was shocked of course, but it’s the kind of gender inequality that people took for granted at the time. Mary’s show was revolutionary. She played a single, career-driven woman in the 70s who worked in a male-dominated environment. It not only changed television but also opened doors for women to take matters into their own hands and be more independent. In an interview with Nancy O’Dell Oprah Winfrey “revealed that it was Moore who first inspired her to pursue her own entertainment empire.” She paved the way.

But clearly the fight is not over. Least not in the movie industry. According to statistics, women comprised only 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers in the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2016. That’s deplorable. And it was the introductory subject during the lunch I attended at Sundance a few days ago. Glamour magazine has recently launched their Powered by Women initiative, which aims “to meaningfully increase the brand’s collaboration with female creative talent in 2017 and beyond. The initiative launched in Glamour’s February issue, which was entirely created by women—from the first page to the last.” This year they will partner with Amanda de Cadenet’s GirlGaze, a project “dedicated to closing the gender gap by putting more female-identifying individuals behind the lens, to tell their stories and be fairly compensated for their work.”

The conversation around the table was compelling, insightful and at one point pretty heated, but the strongest message came from Salma Hayek. She questioned the fight and encouraged her fellow Hollywood creatives to focus on their work, rather than on their gender, race or LGBT struggles. “I don’t want to get a job because I’m a girl,” she said. “It’s condescending. Let’s not waste the time on what has been done to us in the past. Let’s show them a perspective of a better future.” She believes that women are better at their jobs because they have to work harder to impress the executives. And if they don’t listen, get it done yourself. Look at Brit Marling for example: she produces, directs, writes and acts in most of her motion picture and television projects to avoid the begging game.

I am not an activist, nor do I work in the film industry. I can’t imagine what women go through in that world, so I didn’t feel like I could express an educated opinion at the table. As someone who has worked in the fashion world for almost two decades, I have only been surrounded by women and gay men. My least pleasant experiences revolve around people using the word “major” too often and disproportionately inflated egos. I have never felt intimidated, nor discriminated by men. I’ve never walked into a room full of men and felt uncomfortable. I have never felt the need to stand up for myself or raise my voice to be heard because I am a woman. I have always been pretty independent and focused on doing what I love to do. I am running my own businesses, work from home and handle a drill like a champ! Is that a privilege, or an askew reality, or is this proof that I am a bigger feminist than I care to admit?

There’s much more to come for this female future. First we must agree that there’s a big difference between being ‘pro-woman’ and ‘anti-man’. The latter is very counter-productive and divisive. The Womensmarch was a loud and clear cry for a renewed and heightened unity, so let’s keep this going for a while, shall we?

Big thanks to The Outnet and Iris & Ink for asking me to cover this incredibly inspiring lunch. Thanks to Cindi Leive at Glamour magazine for all the initiatives and letting me sit with this powerful group of women. And thanks to Amanda de Cadenet for creating a new generation of lens women.

January 27, 2017

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