Why Are Women Being Erased?

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 10:  Director Ava DuVernay attends the 2015 Film Independent filmmaker grant and Spirit Awards n
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 10: Director Ava DuVernay attends the 2015 Film Independent filmmaker grant and Spirit Awards nominees brunch at BOA Steakhouse on January 10, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

From world leaders to the Oscars, where are all the women?

There's a weird and disconcerting trend that I've noticed in the past few weeks. Women are being erased. From boardrooms to politics -- and this month, history. This past Sunday, heads of state gathered in Paris to march in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings. The image was shared around the world showing countries' leaders united in stoic defiance of terrorism. But it was another image altogether that stoked controversy. Conservative Orthodox Jewish newspaper HaMevaser ('The Announcer') stands accused of Photoshopping out German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, EU Foreign Affairs and Security Chief Frederica Mogherini, and cropping out Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Thousands of miles away, women were being erased in an even more shocking way. In Nigeria, 2,000 men women and children were slaughtered by terrorist group Boko Haram. This follows on from the group's kidnapping of 185 women and girls at the end of December, and the kidnapping of over 300 just last summer. Women. Young girls. Literally being erased from view.

And here at home in the U.S. -- while our safety isn't nearly as precarious -- the situation on net for women isn't much better.

We should know by now that when women are out of sight, it's easy for them to become out of mind. Which is perhaps why it comes as little surprise to many that according to a Pew Research poll, just 20 percent of Republican women want to see a female president. Given that there are no female GOP frontrunners in the long list of white male contenders that are currently at the front of the Republican race, it's perhaps hardly surprising. What might surprise you though, is that Democrats aren't clamoring for a woman at the top, either. Even with Hillary Clinton in the zeitgeist, just 46 percent of Democratic men want a female president, compared to 69 percent of Democratic women who would like to see a female leader.

And it isn't just in the White House -- on the big screen (and even behind the camera), women are an afterthought. On Thursday morning, we heard the Academy's nominations for Oscar-worthy films and the men and women that helped to make them. Except there were hardly any women in the long list of nominees. Not to mention women of color or of any ethnic background. Not only was there not a single nomination for a female director, screenwriter or cinematographer, but zero people of color were nominated for acting. As The Atlantic put it, it was one of the biggest minority shutouts in 19 years.

So what's going on here? Why are women being erased in this way, and why aren't we more outraged by it? Partly because we're eerily familiar with the situation.

After all, why should we be surprised that there were no women in the running for prestigious awards that are doled out by a majority of privileged, non-minority authority figures? Given the GOP's frequent legislative attack of women's rights, and the party's continual reminder that any moves towards fighting for reproductive justice is tantamount to baby-killing wantonness and irresponsibility, is it any surprise that women who associate themselves with the Republican party aren't placing much credence in a woman being able to steer the ship? What do we expect?

What we should expect is more. We can't wait 'til we're all but extinguished from view -- waiting for these stories to happen so we can react to them in outrage. We have to act. There's an intersectionality here that watchers of Hollywood might not realize if they're not entrenched in global politics (and vice-versa.) Let's break out of our comfort zones to hear one another. To feel like we have a stake in what's going on with our fellow woman -- whoever she is.

Caroline is a host/producer on HuffPost Live, where she talks about world news, womens rights and politics. Tweet her @CaroMT.

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