How 8 Women In Hollywood Have Fought Against Sexism In The Movie Industry

Growing up a girl in this world is a tough job. From the earliest days of childhood, people begin telling you what you should be and do.

"Act like a lady!" Your mother shouts at you from across the kitchen while brushing off your brother's behaviour because "boys will be boys" and "girls mature faster."

Maybe the classic anecdote would be more accurate if it was to be rephrased as, "We, as a society, put far greater pressure on female children to grow up and act older at a much younger age than we do boys, who are allowed to carry on their childish behaviour into late adulthood without anyone so much as batting an eye." Society expects certain things of women and one of those expectations is that we will put up with a certain degree of expected mistreatment in order to further our careers. Especially for those in Hollywood.

But modern actresses are not putting up with it any longer. They are using their voices to not only speak up about the inequality and blatant sexism they have faced in their careers, but they are also encouraging others to do the same in their own lives.

10 Kristen Stewart on "Faux Girl Power"

If I see one more "strong female character" that is emotionless, spends her time punching through walls, attributes her skills to having numerous brothers, and calls the male characters "sissy" when they fail at physical demonstrations of brute strength, I am going to scream. And so is Kristen Stewart. She is not a fan of what she calls "faux girl power" either.


"They change the name from Bobby to Sue and think that they can send me the script."

We want strong female characters that are allowed to be feminine and emotional as well. Because strength and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive and showing emotion does not make you weak.

9 Salma Hayek on Objectification

Far too many films in Hollywood use women as props or plot points. They are the objects that the male lead's story circles around. They are the women who scorned them in their youth or the one' that got away. They are the manic pixie dream girls that exist only as concepts to help the male leads process whatever they need to process. They are the objectified romantic interests who all the male characters lust after but is never given any interests, goals, or hobbies of her own. Often times, she isn't even given a middle name. Actress Salma Hayek is not a fan of how Hollywood tends to see women as nothing more than objects and, by consequence, undervalues their work.

"The only kind of movie where women make more than men is the [adult film] industry."

When female characters are seen as nothing more than props in the male lead's story, it can be easy to undervalue and under pay them. And that is not okay for the actresses in the project nor the people (both male, female, and everything in between) that are watching (and absorbing) at home.

8 Reese Witherspoon on The Lack Of Female Lead Projects

When looking around at the projects being produced in Hollywood, Reese noticed that some stories just weren't being told.

"No one was developing anything with a female lead...why don't I do something about it?"


We are told time and time again that female-driven films simply do not draw in the same audiences that film's lead by male actors do. And time and time again, this is proven untrue. From Titanic to, more recently, Captain Marvel, female-driven movies has set numerous box office records and it is time for that tired excuse to be laid to rest. Refusing to tell 52% of the global population's story simply tells them that their stories are not worth telling. And, like the aforementioned box office myth, that is simply untrue. People want to see movies about people they can relate to and how can they do that if Hollywood keeps telling the same stories about the same people, over and over again?

7 Jennifer Lawrence on The Wage Gap

One thing that women, of every industry, can relate to is the perceived need to be likable. Being written off as a b-word for sticking up for yourself and your needs can have negative consequences to one's career (and personal life) that many people deem too big of a risk. But not Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence.

"I'm over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable!... I don't think I've ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard."

There comes a time in every woman's life where she has to choose between standing up for herself being nice. Don't apologize for making sure that your needs are met and do not let the fear of "rocking the boat" keep you from making sure that your voice is heard.

6 Helena Bonham Carter on Being Demure

Along with being nice, being small, cute, quiet, and demure are other things that are often expected of women; especially in Hollywood. You are expected to be grateful, modest, and just so gosh darn' happy to be here at all times. You are never supposed to say that you deserve your success nor be anything but demure, even in the roles that you play. And that is something that just does not sit right with many, including beloved actress Helena Bonham Carter.

"You become very angry and depressed that you keep getting offered only these exceedingly demure and repressed roles."


And though there is nothing wrong with being demure and/or modest, it is both the expectation of this behaviour and the limited other options where the true issue lies. There is nothing wrong with delicate and quiet female characters, as many women are both of these things. But when these are the only roles available, one starts to wonder what the movie industry is telling women on how they should behave.

5 Amy Adams on Pitting Women Against Each Other

Not every female character that appears in a film and/or television program needs to be pitted against each other for it only furthers the idea that other women are our competition. This is a sentiment shared by the talented award-winning actress Amy Adams.

"I hope that I can be involved with a woman on screen where we are not in a love triangle...Maybe where we could team up together."

When we are taught to see other women as competition, it keeps us divided, conquered, and occupied. It keeps us focused on our bodies and the products they sell us to fix imagined problems rather than on our careers, on helping each other, and on making this world a better place for all that occupy it. And that is pricesly what they want: for us to not realize how powerful we would be if united.

4 Jameela Jamil on How We Police Women's Bodies

Jameela Jamil is, single-handedly, changing Hollywood as we know it and it is about time. From her refusal to censor herself, both on camera and on her social media accounts, to her commitment to calling out the double standards in the industry at every opportunity, Jameela is a breath of fresh air to an industry overrun by expectations, sexism, and an utter obsession with actresses bodies. On the topic of weight, Jameela had this to say:

"We don't know what men weigh, we don't care. We care what women weigh...we care about what little space they are taking up in this world."


Candidly speaking, the least interesting thing about a person is their weight/dress size. We want to see what you can do, what sets your soul on fire, what your passions and goals are, and what your dizziest daydreams are. We couldn't care less how about your bodies relation to the gravitation pull of the Earth's core (which is all weight really is).

3 Maggie Smith on Ageism

If one were to look at Hollywood as a representation of the global population and the world that we live in (which I strongly advise against) one would assume that women were mostly white, slim, and that they mysteriously dropped off of the face of the Earth before their 35th birthday (unless they manage to stay wrinkle free and then they can stay.) On the topic of ageism in Hollywood, beloved actress Maggie Smith had this to say:

"When you get into the granny era- you're lucky to get anything."

And the most infuriating part of it all is that male actors are allowed to age gracefully both on and off screen. Their wrinkles faces and salt-and-peppered hair appears on the silver screen and the cover of our magazines in HD because it is seen as a sign of wisdom and their sexuality whilst the part of their love interest is played by an 18-23 year old actress with not a wrinkle in sight. Ageing is not only natural but it is utterly beautiful and we deserve to see it celebrated on screen.

2 Kerry Washington on the Need For New Perspectives

It is 2019 and that means that it is time for a new story to be told. On the topic of diversity, actress Kerry Washington had this to say:

"I bring something to the table as a woman. I bring something to the table as a woman of colour... If it's the only thing you focus on, then it's a danger and if you never talk about it, then it's a danger."


And she is right. If a movie ignores the unique experiences of women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of diverse backgrounds then those stories are not being told. But if the only films that feature diverse stories are entirely focused on those differences, then their stories are treating them as those concepts rather than fully rounded people. The labels we fall under are such a small part of who we are and, though they should not be ignored outright when our stories are told, there are far much more interesting things about someone's journey that which box they fit into.

1 Emma Stone on Double Standards

As a writer who primarily works in fields relating to video games and "geek culture," I have had my fair share of gatekeeping. The need to triple check each and every fact mentioned in a piece because the name on the byline will encourage bored and insecure individuals to spam my comment sections with demands for proof of my "nerdiness" and corrections that are rarely ever correct. There are just certain things that girls are not "allowed" to do. Renowned comedy actress Emma Stone is no stranger to such things.

“There have been times when I’ve improvised, they’ve laughed at my joke and then given it to my male co-star.”

Women can be anything they set their mind to. Girls can be funny. They can be nerdy. They can be writers, doctors, poets, and directors. But if every single film we are shown gives all the jokes and jobs to the male characters and leaves the females with nothing, then these films are telling us that women are not funny. And, after a while, we might start to believe it. That is why we need to make sure that diverse stories are being told because if we grow up thinking that we can be anything we want to be, then we will be.


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