I Witnessed Hollywood's Sexism Firsthand -- And Said Nothing

One man said, "Would you rather keep the Oscar statue or get a blow job from any actress in the first three rows?"
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My friend and I went to different Oscar-watching parties on Sunday that were both kind of romantic, at first.

Both parties were full of hip (albeit low-level) entertainment industry folk -- writer's assistant, production assistant, script coordinator, you name it. Everyone had dreams of being on that red carpet one day. We were a bunch of 20-something artists, all gathered in one place to be inspired by our role models to keep striving for that gold. We were the future of Hollywood.

But soon, the future looked grim.

At one party, one man said to another, "Would you rather keep the Oscar statue or get a blow job from any actress in the first three rows?"

"So I don't keep the statue -- but everyone still knows I won the award?" said the other, in an attempt to clarify.

At a second party, as Pink was singing "Over the Rainbow," a man commented, "Yeah, her titties don't look very good."

When Gabourey Sidibe, the star from the film "Precious," walked on stage, the man held up his hand to block her from his sight, giggling like a middle schooler making fun of the chubby girl in class. He was similarly vocal about his disgust for Whoopi Goldberg, the only female presenter who didn't bare skin.

When Charlize Theron, Kate Hudson or any thin, blonde had a cameo, he loudly groaned as if he was having an orgasm right there at the party, in front of mostly strangers.

For hot non-blondes, he charitably muttered, "I'd do her."

The spell had been broken. All of a sudden, the white-men-run-Hollywood statistics no longer seemed to be just about old white guys that would die off. The reality that females in the industry were rated on "bang-worthiness" rather than talent had just hit close to home.

The worst part: no one said anything, including us. We sat quietly in terror, hands folded over our laps, staring at the screen. The misogynists were only a few men, among numerous progressive men and women, but they were the ones who were heard. These few men do not represent an entire industry but they did display a societal problem that is reflected on screen.

Women got only 28 percent of speaking roles -- often hypersexualized roles -- in the 100 top-grossing fictional films from 2012. About 32 percent of female characters wore "sexy" clothing, compared to 7 percent of male characters, and 31 percent of these women were shown partially nude, compared to 9 percent of men.

And the Academy isn't doing any better. Seventy-seven percent of Academy voters are male, 99 percent of "Best Director" winners are male, and 98 percent of both producers and writers are white. In other words, the status of women, and especially women of color in Hollywood, is an absolute train wreck that doesn't represent the movie-going public or the United States' demographic (Lupita's victory notwithstanding).

Witnessing the ugliness behind the statistics first-hand, from peers who we assumed would know better, made us realize that the misrepresentation in Hollywood won't just go away on its own. If we expect Hollywood to get any better, we cannot complacently stare at the screen. We must have the guts to speak up.

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