Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
August 25th, 2011 by Mere Smith

Fifteen Fucking Percent?

(special thanks to @buffywrestling on Twitter for the topic tip-off)

An article appeared in “The Hollywood Reporter” on Tuesday, written by Rebecca Ford, called “Fewer Women Are Working In Primetime TV”.  Too busy to click on the link?  Allow me to summarize:

According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in the 2010-2011 season, only 15% of Writers working on primetime shows were women.

Hold on.  Go back.  Did you get that?  I mean, really get that?

Only FIFTEEN PERCENT of primetime TV Writers are women.

Appallingly low, I realize, but still somewhat of an abstract concept, right?  I mean, sure, on the surface, the numbers pissed off my intellect — but I had trouble fully grasping the huge disparity they signified.  So, as I often find visual aids helpful, let me show you the one I created, where .|. = a dick and balls, and o = a vagina.  I call it:

.

100 TV Writers in a Room

.

.|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|.

.|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|.

.|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|.

.|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|.

.|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

.

Okay, so now you’re all, “But Mere!  You just lumped all the vaginas together at the bottom!  Of course it’s gonna look off-kilter!  All those dicks-and-balls lined up next to each other with only a tiny little row of vaginas tacked onto the end?  That’s not fair!”

To which I reply: “Fine.  Here are the same number of vaginas interspersed with the same number of dicks-and-balls.”

.

100 TV Writers in a Room, Mingling

.

.|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|.

.|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|.

.|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|.

.|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|. .|. .|. o .|. .|.

.|. .|. .|. o .|. .|.

.

Look any fairer?

I have to admit, when those numbers turned into pictures in front of me, suddenly my pissed-off intellect was joined by a visceral, bowel-burning fury.

How the hell could this happen? I thought to myself.  It’s 2011!  I know we’re not flying around in Jetsons cars yet, but the last bra-burnings took place over 40 years ago!  Aren’t we supposed to be beyond the whole demanding-our-equal-rights thing?  Shouldn’t we, oh, I don’t know, already fucking have them?

This led to my calling the WGAw (Writers Guild of America, west) yesterday, and after inquiring, I received the following numbers:

In 2009 (the latest year for which they had complete data) 1,978 Guild members were women.  These women made up about 24.1% of the Guild.  And aptly enough, out of all working Writers for 2009, the percentage of those working Writers who happened to be female equalled roughly 24%.

Simply speaking?

Women = 24.1% of the Guild.

Women = 24% of all working Writers.

To me, that is fair.  Equal.  I’m good with equal.  I’m not looking for special treatment.  In fact, if women started getting hired at a much higher percentage than their representation in the Guild warranted (say, + 7% or more), all at once we’d be in Affirmative Actionland and I’d get uncomfortable.

Just as I don’t want to be rejected simply because I possess a clitoris, I also don’t want to be hired simply because I possess a clitoris.  Don’t get me wrong, my clitoris is AWESOME, and I’m happy it’s there, but that’s not something I usually bring up during hiring meetings.  (Well… not always.)

But in the 2010-2011 season?

Only 15% percent of working Writers had clitorises.  (Or clitorae, if you wanna get schmancy about it.)

That’s a drop of 9%.  In one year.

Meanwhile, in that same season, the number of female Directors also declined from 16% to 11%.

That’s a drop of 5%.  In one year.

Now speaking as a woman, I’m pretty confident that in one year, my gender didn’t — all at once, collectively — get any stupider.  Or become less talented.  Or turn up dead (unless there’s a plague going around that only hits female Writers and Directors — and I mean one besides the usual sexism, harassment, and patronizing condescension).  I’m also relatively sure that 9% of us didn’t just up and quit The Business to go squirt out babies whilst barefoot in the kitchen.

So what the fuck is happening in TV?  Why the declines across the board?

I’m not asking because I have a theory to promote — though I do have a few polemics on the tip of my tongue — but because I genuinely don’t get how this could occur.  There are women’s writing groups, women’s advocacy groups, “diversity” placements for women… which is odd, considering there are more women than men in the U.S.  Does that mean The Good Old Boys are finally admitting that “diversity” is just another way of saying, “any folks who aren’t us rich white guys”?

Not to mention I know, from personal experience, that there exist honest-to-god quotas when it comes to staffing women — though rarely will anyone cop to it.

So with all this “help” we’re getting, shouldn’t female Writers be workingat the very least — as much as men?

Yet still, here we are, all 15% of us — just a few little vaginas in a room full of dicks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *