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Gender Neutral Film Awards - will it benefit or disadvantage women?

(30 Posts)
Lessthanaballpark Sun 16-Apr-17 08:04:49

I was having this "discussion" with my DBro (he's one of those "I don't see gender" types) as one or two awards have taken down their male / female categories and we were talking about the possibility of the Oscars doing the same.

His argument was that it would then be a level playing field and the best person would win.

My argument was that it's not yet a level playing field because there are more roles for men and actresses get paid less anyway.

To which he replied that maybe women aren't as interesting.

At which point I eye-rolled to leave the conversation whilst he proceeded to say he doesn't see gender and judges everyone on their merits.

I'm crap at arguing and need your advice if it comes up again as it surely will.

Sometimes though I feel like it's the attitude that bugs me. This gleeful "see you wanted equality but you can't handle it" attitude.

Do people not want diversity and inclusion for everyone in public life or is it all a big competition?

Sorry for rant blush

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 16-Apr-17 08:13:33

I find it very hard to imagine it would benefit women. As long as there are people out there like your db who think women are naturally less interesting women will be wading uphill through treacle trying to get equal representation.
I will believe it when I see it.

CaoNiMartacus Sun 16-Apr-17 08:22:48

Of course it won't benefit women. Structurally speaking, it's a man's world, and men find other men more interesting (apart from at the moments when they're trying to convince or bully women into having sex with them.)

GuardianLions Sun 16-Apr-17 08:34:20

Having female categories alongside male prevents the erasure of women and women's achievements in a sexist world where there is a bias towards men and men''s achievements. I am not confident women will be fairly considered for things unless it is mandatory.

treaclesoda Sun 16-Apr-17 08:38:00

I think that if there are no longer male and female catergories, it will be very rare indeed for a woman to win. I was going to say 'a woman will never win again' but that's probably an exaggeration. But still, I think everything will naturally gravitate towards men.

LineysRun Sun 16-Apr-17 08:38:33

There are fewer 'award winning' roles for women of all ages, so it's hardly a level playing field.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 16-Apr-17 08:50:13

Oh thank you lovely people for articulating what I wanted to say.

I find it so difficult to counter this idea that feminism is hypocritical for wanting female only spaces (from toilets to sporting categories) when it has been so fiercely fighting for gender equality and neutrality.

I know it's about inclusivity and everyone getting a piece of the pie but so many men seem to think it's about us wanting to compete against men and whining when we lose.

MsJuniper Sun 16-Apr-17 08:51:50

Taking the Oscars as example, most of the awards are gender neutral (e.g. Director, cinematography) and we all know what happens there - 99% male.

Datun Sun 16-Apr-17 09:13:05


The problem with telling people who think the world is a meritocracy is that you have to start with Feminism 101. Women, on the whole, will grasp the idea of patriarchy quite quickly. They experience the disadvantage on a daily basis.

Men, on the other hand, don't like to hear it. Even mentioning the word patriarchy or feminism they start in with the eye rolling - ironically, an instant proof of its existence.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 16-Apr-17 09:25:05

Oh Datun it is sooo tiring! I always check myself when in non MN situations to not say the word "patriarchy" for fear of appearing too radical!

But until we are able to call a spade a spade and point out the ways in which women have been historically disadvantaged so many men and boys (my nephew is also of the same opinion as my DBro and he's a kid!) will just look around, see men in the top spots throughout history and today, and come to the simple conclusion that men are superior.

But to say this would bring forth cries of "victim hood mentality" so I just keep quiet.

treaclesoda Sun 16-Apr-17 09:28:17

Gender neutral awards will be an absolute gift to misogynists everywhere. In a hypothetical Oscars set up, there will be a far greater pool of men to choose from, because there will be more roles for them. The roles they get will often be of more interest to other men than the roles that women get. And since the Oscars are voted for from within the film industry, which is overwhelmingly male, the men will win. And then people will say 'well, see, women don't have much of interest to say, if they did, they'd be winning the awards too. In fact, films with female lead characters don't really make much money either, we'll really have to reconsider making that sort of film in future'.

And before you know it, women are back to being minor characters, love interest or murder victim, whose role involes either weeping prettily or screaming.

IvankaTrudeau Sun 16-Apr-17 09:31:06

As a pp has said, good roles for women are few and far between. And women often have much smaller parts and speak less in films. And if you think about something like the Oscars, you have to mount a campaign, don't you? Publicity and promotion and appearances and all the rest. Which needs money and you're less likely to find that as a woman, perhaps? Don't know if that bit's true, it's just conjecture.

If we had equality then perhaps it would be a good idea. Even then, I don't see why it's a bad thing to have separate awards.

Datun Sun 16-Apr-17 09:36:11


I know, it's exhausting. And frustrating. I found myself putting the word patriarchy in air quotes. You know, to make me sound more credible!

It pissed me off no end that I had to sugarcoat an explanation about why I needed to sugarcoat an explanation.

It's any help, I started to use the words male chauvinism instead. It's the same thing, but it's a far more widely acceptable description. They can't deny it's existence. Everyone knows about male chauvinism, but fewer men feel personally attacked when you use it.

"You know about the patriarchy right?"

< eyes glaze over >

"You know about male chauvinism, right?"

<"Oh yeah, idiots. I've got a friend like that">

HRHTiggyD Sun 16-Apr-17 09:44:47

In the last 30 years of Oscar director awards there have only been 29 men that have won.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 16-Apr-17 09:53:14

Thanks Datun I will try that. I try to sugarcoat things too and catch myself thinking "FGS Lessthan!"

At least I have you lot flowers

VestalVirgin Tue 18-Apr-17 15:49:04

To which he replied that maybe women aren't as interesting.

Which shows that, while he does not see gender (I believe him, even. Gender is the system of patriarchal oppression, created for the benefit of men. Of course he doesn't see it, it never harms him), he does see sex, and does so very well. If a man does something, it is interesting to him, if a woman does the same thing, it is not interesting.

There is something we can do, however.

Something you can do, too.

Just don't watch any films that do not, at the very least, pass the Bechdel test. Two women. Who talk to each other. About something other than a man. (and it doesn't matter if the man is talked about as love interest or prime minister. Man is man. The test measures how male-dominated the movie is.)

And if a man complains about him, tell him that those movies that are male dominated are "Not as interesting". Tell him that you "don't see gender". That those movies with mostly male roles just happen to be boring.

Datun Tue 18-Apr-17 18:04:38

And if a man complains about him, tell him that those movies that are male dominated are "Not as interesting". Tell him that you "don't see gender". That those movies with mostly male roles just happen to be boring.

I've noticed lately there are quite a few U.K. shows with female cops. I can think of at least four off hand. And the women aren't always gorgeous. In fact, sexism is often a pertinent point.

Although, the big cheese is often a man. But is often portrayed as a bit of a prat/dinosaur.

Dervel Tue 18-Apr-17 18:05:55

I would point out fiction in film was invented by a woman:

Alice Guy-Blanche invented it, the whole art form was pioneered by her. If your brother argued that was over 100 years ago, simply ask why do we STILL minimise and ignore women's contributions to culture, science and civilisation? Which have been vast.

That to me is evidence enough of troubling attitudes in the present. I am not a feminist nor a historian but only a cursorary search into ANY field of human endeavour reveals a staggering number of women making massive contributions.

andintothefire Wed 19-Apr-17 10:02:59

I sometimes muse on how often I pass the Bechdel test in my everyday life. It is amazing how frequently I can go a full day without talking to another woman about anything substantive (other than shop assistants etc). I think it is because I am in a male dominated profession so am more often than not the only woman in the room. However, when I meet up with female friends we always have far more interesting things to discuss than men!

I mention this because, while I agree with Datun that there are quite a few U.K. tv shows with female leads, it is still amazing how often that female lead will be surrounded by male characters and an episode won't pass the Bechdel test. Maybe it is reflecting the reality of the workplace to some extent (although there is nothing wrong with using artistic licence to create more female characters), but there is very rarely much interest in TV shows in reflecting the reality of female social interactions. We might work long hours surrounded by men, but we also normally seek out or surround ourselves with other women socially who we talk to about far more interesting and diverse matters than most of the men I know do when they get together! One of the great myths of film and television is that women are mainly interested in discussing their love lives and families.

slug Wed 19-Apr-17 12:13:27

I was in the cinema waiting for Trainspotting 2 (a MAJOR Beschdel fail) to start when an ad came on for Moonlight.

A few beers may have been ingested as my louder than usual comment "Oh great! Another young man's coming of age movie. How original" Didn't go down too well. Though I did hear a few distinctly female snickers.

Datun Wed 19-Apr-17 12:47:22


I made the mistake of watching that film. It was the most boring, naval gazing superficial load of shite I've have ever had the misfortune to sit through.

Black kid growing up in poverty and discovering he is gay. Sounded like it could be quite powerful. Noooo.

Just loads of staring.

And the only female role was Naomie Harris off her face on drugs and neglecting her child. (And I would still rather have spent an afternoon with her than anyone else).

WankingMonkey Wed 19-Apr-17 12:51:47

It won't benefit women. Weren't the female categories brought out so that women actually stood a chance of being recognized? What on earth makes people think that doing away with specific award s will not mean going back to same old men win it all hmm

andintothefire Wed 19-Apr-17 13:50:26

I agree - Moonlight was by far the most overrated film of last year in my view. The first third was mildly interesting but it just became so boring. I really didn't care about any of the main characters.

Should we have separate awards categories for female directors? Or female writers? I think change in the film and TV industry will only come when women are given the opportunity to drive projects creatively. Theatre in the UK is so much better for female creatives (though obviously still some way to go). It's heartening to see how well represented women are creatively in the first season of the new Bridge Theatre in London.

deydododatdodontdeydo Wed 19-Apr-17 13:51:38

I can go a full day without talking to another woman about anything substantive (other than shop assistants etc)

That would pass you the Bechdel test if you knew their names, though, which is one reason I think it's flawed, but still useful.
My pet peeve is Gravity - a film with a clever female protagonist and heroine, but which fails because there's only 3 characters in the film (only 2 of substance).

Floisme Wed 19-Apr-17 14:14:17

I've read (sorry can't link at the moment but it's easy to google) that women had 29% of leading film roles in 2016 - and that was feted as a record year.

That, in a nutshell, is why it's a shit idea.

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