Is Hollywood Progressive When It Comes to Women?

It’s amazing to me that with all of the progress we’ve made, with gender equality, we still have so far to go. I’m not talking about transgender or gender fluidity; I’m talking about women. Hollywood claims to be enlightened, leading the charge, and yet Hollywood is part of the problem. It’s emphasis on youth and beauty is still at the core of movie making. It was Hollywood executives and actors, that allowed a monster, a wolf, to lie in the fold with the sheep, in exchange for the promise of fame and fortune. Those complicit, should all be held accountable.

Once again, at the Oscars, actresses arrived in their primarily hideous, over-the-top, sexy, provocative dresses, as people gawked at their magnificence. Crowds stood outside the theater as the press and media snapped photos, in celebration of their beauty and curvaceous and in some cases, not so curvaceous bodies. This lineup of beautiful women is the pinnacle of the celebration of the sexualization of women, even though most would probably claim, it’s the empowerment of women. No one cares about what the men are wearing, nor should they. Entertainment MCs speak to the men about their roles and to the women about their dresses, designers and jewelry. No one ever asks a male actor about what designer tuxedo, watch he’s wearing or his cologne.

Women across the globe strive to attain the idealistic, visions of beauty and perfection. If that wasn’t the case, magazines like Vogue or In Style wouldn’t exist. Sure, Hollywood throws in an occasional actress who doesn’t fit the mold; the size two or three dress as a consolation prize. We all remember Precious. Where is she these days? Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue throws in a plus size model like Ashley Graham or Kate Wasley, but the majority are cut from the same vision of perfection. Sports Illustrated at the end of the day, recognizes the fact that in order to sell the swimsuit issue, they need to appeal to their main reader, men.

Feminists might say, that dressing up is empowering. They look and dress sexy today, because they want to, without being pressured by men. Women are simply demonstrating that they can be talented, intelligent, beautiful and sexy. I can appreciate and respect that. However, the way to support women is by truly appreciating and recognizing their accomplishments, not their designers or the fact that a dress is see thru. I learned early on that actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, Hollywood is still about the glamour. Nothing could be more evident of that than the fact that there are fewer roles for older actresses as their youth leaves them. Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren are perhaps two exceptions. But Harrison Ford, at 80, can still play the lead in yet another Raiders of the Lost Arc release. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it clearly demonstrates the double standard that still exists today.

If women are going to ever be truly treated as equals, we need to stop the cycle of celebrating beauty, sexuality and youth. Or perhaps, that’s truly who we are; people genetically programed to celebrate beauty and sexuality. But if that’s true, it means we must try even harder to fight that instinctual desire, in our never-ending worship of beauty, youth and perfection. What better place to start, than with Hollywood?

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