The issue of Sexism in the Academy | An unacceptable and intolerable benevolence

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Ever since the Oscars were created way back in the later 1920s era of the United States, the majority of people who were ever nominated for the category of Best Director were ninety-nine percent men and fewer women.

This is because of one main and important reason that’s been plaguing the Academy Awards ever since its creation: Sexism. It’s commonly referred to as a treatment where one gender is treated superiorly in regards to the other gender and in the case of male directors getting all the accolades ever since the late 1920s and every once in a while, a movie would arrive with the person behind the camera being a woman and even if the film was a success critically, commercially, financially, and among audiences and fans, it would still be snubbed entirely from the Best Director category due to the gender of the person who directed it and that’s a common problem that hasn’t changed at all and continues to be prevalent in the film industry.

The statistical analyses estimated that about five women in the film business have ever been nominated for being behind the camera for a critically successful film and the names are as follows: Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow (won the Oscar for Best Director in 2009 for the war film called The Hurt Locker), and Greta Gerwig. While that is a remarkable and impeccable achievement for these women because they all deserved it, it’s still sad to see them being snubbed twice or thrice a time despite how amazing the film was.

A prime example would be when Kathryn Bigelow directed Zero Dark Thirty and while the film was nominated for several other awards including Best Picture and Best Actress for Jessica Chastain, Dir. Bigelow was shut out of the Academy and wasn’t nominated which led to an outcry from critics and audiences who accused the prestigious film awards of sexism and since then, there has been a lot of discussion for the reason why women are left out of the category. It didn’t stop there, the director of Selma, Ava Duvernay, was snubbed despite Selma being the film being critically successful, Patty Jenkins who directed Monster starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci in 2003 was also snubbed in my opinion, Kimberly Peirce, who directed Boys Don’t Cry starring Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, wasn’t nominated in the directing category, Kathryn Bigelow made Detroit in 2017 which was based on the Detroit events/riot in 1967 and while that film was critically acclaimed, she was again snubbed by the Academy and that was the second time it happened to her. It saddens me because she is one of my favorite directors and I wish she at least got a nomination if not winning.

In 2019, Greta Gerwig made Little Women and again left out by the Academy and this increased the outrage online about how sexist the Academy is towards women and only nominate them in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress category. Shockingly Gillian Flynn who wrote the screenplay for Gone Girl and was also the author of the book wasn’t nominated for work in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay and that just shocked me beyond words at how male-biased the award show is towards women.

Let’s imagine that if all the Best Picture-winning movies like Green Book, Spotlight, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, The Departed, and Moonlight were directed by women and they were all successful as they turned out to be, the women who directed all these movies wouldn’t even be nominated for Best Director. That’s close to benevolent sexism for me and that makes me extremely sad because women deserve to be treated equally and fairly in society otherwise there would be tons of sexism and misogyny in the world and that’s something I hate with a passion because, in my opinion, everyone deserves a chance in their lives and provided with equal opportunities and chances.

I have great respect for female directors because they contain a vision that could be as strong as men. If I were in charge of the nomination process for Best Director in 2012, 2017, and 2019, I would have nominated Dir. Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, and Detroit and Dir. Gerwig for Little Women because those films are mind-blowing amazing, realistic, and authentic from start to finish. Some critics have spoken online against sexism in the award season, calling them out for only nominating women once in their lifetime and snubbing them for the second and third time in their lives. I can’t help but call them out for their sexist attitudes towards women too.

I would like to say this to those people behind the nomination voting process in the Academy “either nominate the women for their hard work, achievement, and success or you are going to be labeled and categorized as sexist, being the main reason why the glass ceiling effect is prevalent in society, and being the number one problem with women not moving forward at their position in life in a Progressive world and society.” I also have a strong piece of advice towards the female directors in Hollywood “keep making great movies for us as audiences and speak out against sexism because your voices deserve to be heard by everyone including the Academy. You deserved to be treated equally and fairly in society because you’re as amazing as any other artist and you don’t deserve to be left out due to your gender because that isn’t important, what’s important is what you created for the world.”

If any male movie reviewer on YouTube or their website doesn’t like a brilliant movie directed by a female, simply because they are women, I suppose they’re sexist, because all they want is movies and films directed by men rather than women, even that women can show equal characteristics of an amazing director, and that I won’t tolerate.


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