Lena Dunham's Quote About Sexism Is A Call to Action & She's Not Alone In Her Thoughts
On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter hosted its annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, which gathers some of the best and most badass ladies in the business (#WafflesAndWomen, anyone?). After being announced as one on THR's Power 100, actress/director/writer/producer of girls Lena Dunham shared a powerful quote about sexism as she took the stage to address the room. "Some girls who grew up in the '90s dreamt of a luxury cruise with N'Sync," she said, "but my fantasy has always been a room full of Hollywood power bitches enjoying breakfast foods."
She went on to tip her hat to "power bitches" in the room for contributing towards the shrinking gender gap in Hollywood. "I want to thank all of you for brilliantly and stylishly cleaning up the mess that Hollywood has made of equality and diversity," she said. "Because after all, isn't that historically what women have been asked to do, clean up messes that don't belong to them and that they're not responsible for?"
In her usual poetic and humorous way, Dunham shined a spotlight on the need for diversity and equality in the entertainment industry. "This year, the conversation around this issue has reached a fever pitch, and it's forcing studios to answer uncomfortable questions, white male directors to take a hand mirror to their own privilege, and the industry as a whole to wonder just where along the line we forgot to be as progressive as we think we are," she said, adding that she's felt the change in her bones — Twitter being her bones — this year.
Don't worry, Lena, I feel it in my Twitter-bones too. This year has been a major one for women in Hollywood, and the following women have been at the forefront of the change in several kickass moments.
1. Jennifer Lawrence
I don't think I've met a single person who doesn't like J.Law. She's that quirky, relatable person who talks about craving fries on the red carpet and trips in her beautiful dress. We've all been there, and she takes it all with good humor. But recently — actually, writing for Lena Dunham's newsletter — Lawrence spoke up about sexism in Hollywood.
"I don't think I've ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It's just heard."
Despite being the lead in many of her movies, she's still being paid less than her male co-stars, and she admitted she often caved instead of negotiating for higher rates to be likable. But, she says, she's through with that: "I'm over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that."
2. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift loves two things more than anything in the world: her cats and her squad of badass female friends. So when John Cleese threw shade at Swift's cats and females in in an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, the singer subtly defend her loves. During the appearance, Cleese said he prefers cats over dogs, since "cats are unpredictable and cusssed — like women, you know."
Rather than lash out, Swift was silent for a moment, then said, lips pursed, "Ooh, we don't want to do that."
3. Cate Blanchett
Last year, Blanchett accepted her Oscar and gave the audience a little bit of truth about sexism in Hollywood. Since then, she's been one of the Hollywood feminist poster girls, and she's starting to feel odd about it.
"It just feels like the industry has the same conversation every year," she told GQ this month. And while she admitted it's a fantastic conversation to be having, nothing actually changes. "We'll be back here like Groundhog Day next year having the same fucking symposium. It just has to shift."
5. Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay, badass director (and now inspiration to Barbie), spoke at the ELLE Women and Hollywood Awards in October with an uplifting, inspiring message. She said the room of attendees should think of themselves as a village.
"One that fights for change on the outside, but one that recognizes that an equal part of that fight is keeping ourselves strong and joyous and sane in a really insane industry. Because our conversation shouldn't be consumed with what he's not doing or what they don't value. We value us. We build our village. We grow stronger."
It's the kind of positivity that's needed, especially in a frustrating situation. Also, how awesome is that fist bump between her and Meryl Streep?
5. Emma Watson
Can I just be Emma Watson? She has beyond superseded her role as Hermione Granger in our childhoods, and she's now a spokesperson for the UN and a badass feminist advocate for He For She. "I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women," she told The Guardian in September. "Of the producers I've worked with 13 have been male, and only one has been a woman.
She expanded saying, "I think my work for the UN has probably made me even more aware of the problems. I went out for a work dinner recently. It was 7 men... and me."
If it's a numbers game, then we have a ways to go until we see a Hollywood of equality. Luckily, we've got these amazing women speaking out and advocating to change that every day.