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Activist-Artist ‘Guerrilla Girls’ Are Back to Take on Hollywood

“The SENATE sucks but HOLLYWOOD sucks even more!”

Twenty years after activist-artists Guerrilla Girls papered film festivals and billboards in protest over a lack of female film directors, the group is back with the same message, proving how show business hasn’t changed much.

In 1999, the group created a simple bumper sticker that read: “the U.S. Senate is more progressive than Hollywood,” noting that women comprised nine percent of American senators but only four percent of directors to have worked on the top 100 films that year.

Today, the group has a new message: “Hollywood is still worse,” a new sign read, with stats that now show 25 percent of U.S. senators are women while women only directed four percent of the top movies last year.

Founded in New York City in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls is an anonymous group of feminist, female artists who use “facts, humor, and arresting visuals” to point out ongoing gender and racial inequities in politics, film, art, and popular culture, the group said.

Their new campaign is rolling out on social media, co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, headed by Dr. Martha Lauzen at San Diego State University. Lauzen publishes an annual survey of women’s behind-the-scenes employment in major studio films.

“The intent of the campaign is to illustrate that 20 years later, the film industry continues to lag behind even our most staid political institutions,” said Lauzen. “The side-by-side comparison offers a way of conceptualizing how little Hollywood has changed over the last two decades.”

The latest Celluloid Ceiling report surveyed the top 250 films to open at the domestic box office. Last year, only one percent of films employed ten or more women in behind-the-scenes jobs. In contrast, 74 percent of films employed 10 or more men in those roles. Women accounted for eight percent of directors working on the top 250 films in 2018, down three percentage points from 11 percent in 2017. This is one percentage point below the nine percent achieved in 1998.

There have only been five women to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, which is now in its 92nd year. Kathryn Bigelow was the first and only woman to win the award in 2010 for her film, The Hurt Locker. The last woman to be nominated was Greta Gerwig in 2018.

There are professions that women have historically dominated. Women have now surpassed men in representation for some fields, according to a recent report, that may be surprising. Some examples included were: writing, optometry, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine.

In terms of educational opportunities, women have made up the majority of undergraduate students in higher education for several decades now—a trend that has never stopped increasing.


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