Project 365: Day 296 — I’m a woman and the Oscars and Uber make me angry

I thought the Oscars this year were great. Especially host Jimmy Kimmel. I’m not a fan of watching award shows. Bollywood does such a terrible job on the Filmfare Awards (considered our take on the Oscars) that I’ve given up on them years ago. What I hate most about them is that it’s all a show of clout, of how much money one or several producers) make, of how awards can most certainly be given away to massage big egos and my, oh my, there are several egos that need to be satiated! So much that categories are often invented to give away awards. I mean, come on, what the hell is Performer of the Year? Someone who burns out doing 2 films and 4 reality shows a year? I hate the vulgar display of ass-licking and schmoozing that Bollywood award shows indulge in. It’s all about clout.

When was the last time clout was used for a good purpose? I loved Meryl Streep for taking a stance against the anti-immigration rant Trump went on about, the fact that she used her position of privilege to call out a horrible person, voted to power by people who think he can bring about positive change! Leaving aside my incredulity and disgust at that, she must have known he was coming for her. Let me reiterate, she is a VOICE OF INFLUENCE who used her POSITION OF PRIVILEGE to CALL OUT BULLSHIT. I don’t see that happening in India, as much as I might want the mighty heroes of Bollywood to take a stand, I know it won’t happen. In a country where Bollywood stars are let off for running over people for lack of evidence, political parties armtwist producers into donating funds to the Army or else facing a ban on their films, I don’t expect anything.

But when a country like the US, people who believe in healthy debate (even though I’m skeptical that’s possible after Trump came into power), when big corporations, big producers, an Academy that celebrates the best of American cinema refuses to call out sexism, people guilty of sexual assault, essentially rapists, it worries me.

Everyone has read Susan Fowler’s account of her experience at Uber. If you haven’t, you must. This morning I also read Amy Vertino’s experience of life at Uber. Having worked in various organizations across at least two fields, I know that the experience can be different depending on the profession, but the primary onus of making you feel like you’re a professional and not as a “woman” (whatever that means) lies with HR and your manager. I refuse to believe Travis Kalanick’s shoddy defense of opening up an urgent investigation. Urgent investigation, my ass! Pretty sure he knew about the minutes of various reported incidents, he chose to ignore them until someone decided to make them public. Usually, when someone in management really wants to do something about it, they find out whether it was reported, the complete chain of authority is held accountable and action is taken. An “urgent investigation” seems like a terrible excuse and only an act of damage control that is so poorly put together anyone can see it.

Likewise, I have had a specific issue with Hollywood for years. They tell the best, the most compelling stories. Some of those stories are about racism, oppression, assault, often sexual assault, sexism and lack of equal opportunity. But as much as the Oscars shamed Trump this year, made bold, political statements by awarding several trophies to African-Americans, where is the shaming of men who have been found guilty of sexual assault / sexual harassment?

Roman Polanski is still celebrated as one of the greatest directors. As is, Woody Allen. How is it that people forget they’re rapists or child molesters? How is it that Hollywood has no problem shoving past complaints of sexual harassment by Casey Affleck under the carpet? Instead, these people are celebrated, year after year, at every major Hollywood event.

Here’s where I’m coming from. When you make a movie (or not) that says consent is important, you have rights to your own body, it’s a level playing field, why does it not translate to real life? Why does a Susan Fowler’s transfer motion get denied only because her manager (obviously a man) wants to show he has women in his team. Why do women get the shitty end of the stick just to make men look good?

I’m a woman and it sucks for your worth to be measured in terms of heels, a vagina and make-up. My work is the only thing that should speak for itself and a no always means NO.

Why does it take so long for people to take action? How much money does Hollywood make a year? What would happen if five or ten really important people spoke up and recognized sexual harassment? What would happen if Travis Kalanick had chosen to fire those guilty instead of going on to investigate later and shoot his mouth off at the press.

This is why I’m angry. Because it takes too long. Because these are little things. Look at the body of work of those guilty! Tell me who would let go of a high performer.

My key takeaway from both Uber and what the Oscars do year after year is just the one —

No one likes uncooperative bitches. Especially the ones that dare to make a noise.
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