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Actresses in Hollywood dealing with sexism

February 25, 2017

Sexism is a world and universel issue but here we will focus on sexism in Hollywood. Indeed this enthusiasm for feminism really got its affirmation around the year 2014 when actresses started denouncing pratices and recurrent sexist attitudes in the Hollywood cinema industry. For example actresses denounce the fact they are less paid than male actors.


Moreover, even well-recognized actresses like Jennifer Lawrence have difficulties proposing ideas for the picture and when they do they are called “brats”. We can also mention that the percentage of female directors is around 6% only. Moreover, it is really normal for a male actor to choose his partner on screen whereas the opposite never happens. Another practice is that actresses have undergone for a long time the selection on physical appearence telling them they were not pretty enough or too old to play the lover of a man for intance. They suffered from stereotyped characters like the stupid blond or the ugly one, never having strong and singular roles of normal women. The actress Maggie Gyllenhal said a word about it : “There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” the actress said. “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.” As public personalities they started using their listened voice to give a message and change things.


First, we cannot talk about feminism whitout naming the great figure of Emma Watson who became an ambassador in the United Nations for the campaign “He for She” which was supported by many famous people. As many personalities find a cause to defend, she found hers : defending gender equality in all its forms and everywhere.

More specifically, in Hollywood, actresses like Meryl Streep or the singer Beyonce defined the term feminism and showed it was not a hate of the opposite sex but just wanting gender equality without any conditions but just because it should be normal.


In 2015, during the Oscar ceremony, Patricia Arquette, as she received the Oscar for best female in a leading role (for Boyhood), started her speech thanking, like usual, people around her and then proclaimed : “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”


So, these past few years, we saw big changes, with a cinema more engaged in this cause; we can take the example of the movie The Suffragettes,  telling the story of these women who fought for the right to vote. Doing this movie didn’t change the condition of the female actress of course but it was a way to use the 8th art to remind people that women’s rights are human rights. We also noticed this change in comedies with for example Amy Shumer or Lena Dunham who destroyed the expected stereotypes of characters in comedies showing women with strong personalites, removed from their complexes or even better, assuming them. This type of characters are stronger than the old stereotypes and every woman can identify with them; in a way women have been able to free their speeches which used to be censored as being unsuitable for women (“women shouldn’t talk about that”).

In a word, these last years, women have decided not to accept the stereotypes of the perfect lady we used to see everywhere. This is partly thanks to the change in the image of women in the cinema and through celebrities. Now women proudly affirm to be feminist and they can because they are right to do so.


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