This weekend I hosted an event a conference titled Live Love Thrive Conference in Los Angeles, Ca. It was a women’s empowerment conference. Since the Harvey Weinstein saga broke, I’ve been digging through one sex scandal after another, this was not just a necessary distraction, a needed redefining of our mission.
We as women have been objectified our entire lives, we have been used for advertising to sell products, given a backset to men’s stories. We’ve been told we need to look a certain way in order to appease men’s sensibilities. While men, the ones who owned the companies that sold these products, profited. Men were allowed to grow old and get fat and if they had money, they had a gorgeous woman by their side, at least in Los Angeles they did.
When I first moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia, it was one of the first things I noticed about this town. Why are all these older, portly men with all gorgeous women by their sides? The answer was in the business that they had created, just for them. Take a look at the products that they sell.
Every Hollywood film from The Big Sleep to pretty much every Woody Allen and Michael Bay film and more recently Tom Cruise film. It’s all older man, with younger women, always. Not long ago actress Maggie Gyllenhall was turned down for a role playing the love interest of an older actor. “There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” she told the Wrap. “I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.” After we laugh Maggie, we need to start screaming, no.
It’s not just age, the industry delusional about, it’s also their ideas around casting. I am really into Netflix’s Stranger Things and as I started into season 2, I was really loving this series, then they brought in a new love interest for Winona Ryder’s character. If you are thinking someone along the lines of Christina Slater, nope, think more like Sam from Lord of the Rings. Yep, A portly Sean Astin. Let me just say for the record, Astin is not unattractive, but his character is portly, it feels forced to me. The two guys that make this show for Netflix, The Duffer Brothers, were more than likely following the tried and true model of what a male dominated Hollywood has created. Another example, Kevin Can Wait on CBS, no Leah Remini is way to gorgeous for the again, out of shape Kevin James. Actress Michelle Pfeiffer recently called out Hollywoods systemic abuse of women.
Many of the idolized filmmakers in our history, have had one dimensional viewpoints of the women in their films, like Hitchcock and Scorcese. Nina Menkes, an independent filmmaker and a member of the film faculty at California Institute of the Arts, writes, “Hollywood and its “almost Jim Crow” system of discrimination against women is one of the major players in a massively destructive ideology which idealizes ego, male power and financial profit over anything else.”TV news and advertising is just as bad. Every ad features women and men early to mid twenties, barely clothed, and if they are wearing clothing they are a size 0 at best. This week after covering sex scandal after sex scandal, and then going into this conference and meeting these women and some male allies, hearing them speak and tell their stories, redefined my mission.From Rhonda Britton, James Van Dyk and Kathleen Ronald’s fierceness to the award winning Trailblazers like world-renowned chef, author, restaurateur Cat Cora and actress, singer, activist Susan Anton. How Julie Smolyansky, fought against the system to become the youngest female CEO of a U.S. public company, Carolyn Olavarria, the first female Latin American GM of Honda. And Kym Gold, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur and founder of True Religion Jeans. We are at a precipice of changing the world to make it a better place for both our sons and daughters. Hollywood and the media will not longer go down this path, we must call it out when we see, not be afraid to speak up when we see discrimination, the old way must die to make way for a better future.