(en)Gendering the Oscars

With the Oscars now officially over for another year, the opulence and gaiety is once more locked in the drawer and summer rolls mercifully forth.

But what if the Oscars were not merely forgotten for another year; rather, they assume a central point in the debate surrounding gender in the entertainment industry – more specifically, in the allocation of prizes?

In the following article, Elsesser argues that the industry has no legitimate onus to split the Oscars acorrding to male/female roles.

Women, she reasons, have excelled in acting as well as men; it is a skill that is non-biological in nature (unlike sport), thus rendering the ‘equal chance’ category nigh patronizing.

To wit:

Many hours into the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, the Oscar for best actor will go to Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth or Jeremy Renner. Suppose, however, that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented separate honors for best white actor and best non-white actor, and that Mr. Freeman was prohibited from competing against the likes of Mr. Clooney and Mr. Bridges. Surely, the academy would be derided as intolerant and out of touch; public outcry would swiftly ensure that Oscar nominations never again fell along racial lines.

Why, then, is it considered acceptable to segregate nominations by sex, offering different Oscars for best actor and best actress? [Source]

It’s an interesting debate and one that has passed sans address since 1929; check it out here.

13 comments on “(en)Gendering the Oscars

  1. zegor
    March 8, 2010

    Indeed an interesting debate. I didn’t even think about it…

  2. apocalypsecakes
    March 8, 2010

    Nice. We have to keep these ideas in play. The whole “male award”/”female award” is such BS.

  3. Lakia
    March 8, 2010

    I loved the article! Especially when you said, “Women, she reasons, have excelled in acting as well as men; it is a skill that is non-biological in nature” — THIS IS SO TRUE!!

  4. Joel Hansen
    March 8, 2010

    They make a point in that article to say that the way they split the sexes is discriminatory against women because “it assumes they couldn’t compete against men.” What if it’s the opposite, and we men just know we would lose?

    Anyway, men and women are different, so I don’t mind honoring both in one awards show.

  5. Cayann, QSoL
    March 8, 2010

    Why, then, is it considered acceptable to segregate nominations by sex…

    …for the same reason that this is the first time a woman got best director.

  6. creativepotager
    March 8, 2010

    Considering today is International Women’s Day I think it is a perfect post for discussion. I’ve been having a similar conversation over on Creative Potager specific to comments made by Kathryn Bigelow about creativity and being a woman… thank you for the historic perspective. Terrill Welch

  7. Tommy Danger
    March 8, 2010

    this is as dumb as saying let’s make unisex public bathrooms. if it’s not broken…

    • Laura
      March 9, 2010

      How does making an award gender-neutral correlate with providing “unisex bathrooms”??

      • Jo T
        March 13, 2010

        There are unisex public bathrooms, and they work pretty well….

  8. llEulogy
    March 9, 2010

    That article was quite possibly the stupidest pile of drivel I’ve read in awhile. The Oscars are not broken, and the academy is definitely not out to belittle women by having a separate category for the leading and supporting roles. I’d go and tear it apart piece by piece, but I think a Carlin quote will sum it up nicely.

    “There are some feminists and people that want to call a manhole cover a peoplehole cover. It’s that type of crap you see on David Letterperson!”

  9. Rashmi
    March 9, 2010

    i agree to Elsesser.

  10. Geekproposal
    March 9, 2010

    I agree that the segregation of sexes (or any factor) is discriminatory even if it’s intended to help someone. But I’m not sure I have a problem with this separation of awards. I think on some level it just doesn’t concern me because it follows the same logic as the separation between lead and supporting actor.
    Great post though. While I may not agree that the male/female awards should be unified, it’s certainly an issue to be aware of.

  11. Jim Hagen
    March 9, 2010

    Yeah, but what would happen if one year no women won an award? There would be screams of sexism in the Academy. And if no men won there would be screams of the Academy being patronizing to women. It’s a lose/lose. The best of all worlds would be for the Oscars to be a nice quiet affair of concern only to the contenders. No reason for the world to care so much.

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2010 by in Americas, Culture, Frivolities & Miscellaeny, Pop culture, Womyn and tagged , , , , .
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