Women’s History Month comes to a close with some good news…and some news that makes us want to bang our heads against a wall. A woman’s work is never done, though, and frequently, that work is inspired by things that make us want to bang our heads on things. This week’s suggested readings are hyperlinked within the individual topics for convenience, and because some of the items run a little long. Still, we hope you’ll give them a read.
Badass: Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Power Ranger, wrote a guest column in Variety thanking Haim Saban, who first adapted the series from a Japanese version, for including her in the series. “My time as the Pink Ranger not only became the training ground for my future career as a working actress,” Johnson wrote, “but also, without even knowing it at the time, a way to inspire thousands of little girls to believe that they can be as badass as little boys. That, in itself, is priceless.” Meanwhile, GQ took the resurgent interest in the franchise as an opportunity to look at Amy Jo Johnson and the Pink Ranger in the context of the male gaze, noting that “if the fascination with the Pink Ranger demonstrates anything at all, it’s how the perception of women as mere objects to lust after starts early.” (Variety | GQ)
Badass: Political commentator and giver of exactly zero rats’ asses Angela Rye went on CNN on Monday night, where she discussed the standards to which we as a nation hold the president and argued that President Obama had been held to an unreasonably high standard. Former Congressman and
professional troll conservative talk radio host Joe Walsh did what any troll would, and countered Rye’s claim by way of a racist, grammatically incorrect tweet (in fairness, Rye also tweeted with a grammatical error, for which she later apologized). After a series of exchanges, CNN had both Rye and Walsh on the air the following evening, and Rye told Walsh exactly what she thinks of him: that he’s a bigot. (CNN)
Badass: Underground star Jasika Nicole told Variety that opportunities for biracial actors are starting to gain more depth, saying that while there are many biracial actresses on television, there’s rarely any exploration of their actual background. “I’ve been in so many rooms with Indian women and Native women and Latina women. We’re all there for the same [role], because they don’t care what she looks like or what her identity is, as long as we’re not white,” she said. Yet in the last year, she’s begun seeing breakdowns that give details of the character’s race, and, importantly, their history. (Variety)
Badass: Our Lady of the Popular Vote, Hillary Clinton, came out of the woods, dusted off her pantsuit, and reminded us
that we could have had it aaaaaaalllllll why she’s Queen of the BAMFs. On Tuesday, she spoke in San Fransisco to the Professional BusinessWomen of California, where she discussed the structural barriers women face in the workplace and made a point of defending April Ryan and Maxine Waters and pointing out that “[t]oo many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride,” which apparently went over pretty well with Ryan’s daughters. Today, she spoke at Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security about women’s role in peace and politics, and warning of the threat Donald Trump poses to that progress.
Bad: Aaron Sorkin, the creator of shows like The West Wing, Sports Night, and NewsRoom, was shocked – shocked – to learn that sexism and racism exist in Hollywood. During a Q&A during the Writer’s Guild Festival, Sorkin asked the audience, “Are you saying that women and minorities have a more difficult time getting their stuff read than white men, and you’re also saying that [white men] get to make mediocre movies and can continue on?” After the Internet collectively facepalmed with headlines like “Famous White Man Reportedly Discovers Hollywood Diversity Issue We’ve All Been Talking About” and “Aaron Sorkin, probably: ‘So you’re saying that ‘La La Land’ … didn’t win?’” Sorkin rushed to clarify that he of course he knows there’s a problem, he was the one who kept bringing it up! Which would be easier to buy if he hadn’t already proven that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about perspectives besides his own, he didn’t have a long and storied history of writing women as hysterical and incompetent, and he hadn’t sent a now-leaked response to Maureen Dowd’s piece lamenting the fact that films like Bridesmaids and The Hunger Games are seen as flukes that read, “There’s an implication that studio heads have a stack of Bridesmaids-quality scripts on their desk that they’re not making and it’s just not true. The scripts aren’t there.” Which demonstrates that he really has no sense of the systemic obstacles that women and minorities face in getting those scripts into the stack. And for what it’s worth, as kickass a character as CJ Cregg is, no one ever seems to remember the fact that the series opened with the public face of the White House taking a pratfall while chatting up a man in the gym and the soon-to-be-media-director driving her car onto a curb. Say what you will about the show being less exciting after Sorkin left, but the women were written better (and there were more of them) under Wells’ EP-ship. Turns out, #notallmen write women like drips. (Variety)
Fuckface von Clownstick Donald Trump is trying really, really hard to block a lawsuit from a former Apprentice contestant who alleges that Trump tried to kiss her twice in 2007 before sexually assaulting her in her hotel room. The Pussygrabber in Chief is arguing through his lawyer that you can’t just sue a sitting president, because it would make it hard for him to do his job and stuff. Funny – you’d think a guy who’s been involved in at least 3,500 lawsuits would know how to handle it by now. (Mic)
Bad: BET announced the departure of its head of original programming, Zola Mashariki, which was a surprise to a lot of people…including Zola Mashariki, who has been on medical leave since February because she has fucking breast cancer. BET claims that Mashariki was let go due to “performance issues” that predate the notification that she would be taking leave, while Mashariki said in a memo to staff that her post was protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act and plans to return in April pending results of surgery. Mashariki has retained a big-name civil rights and employment law firm to (hopefully) kick BET’s ass for being terrible. (THR | Variety)
Bad: After contract negotiations between the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) stalled, the WGA East and WGA West have moved to seek strike authorization from their 6,000 or so members, which would grant the WGA’s bargaining committee the authority to call a strike if they cannot come to an agreement with the AMPTP by the time the current contract ends on May 1st. Among the points of contention in negotiating a new contract is family leave, with the AMPTP having rejected the WGA’s proposal. The biggest issue is health care, and it appears that the AMPTP is demanding that writers accept major cuts without making any concessions on the employers’ end.
Why does this matter to us? Besides the obvious fact that healthcare and paid leave stands to have a greater impact on women’s wages and employment than on men’s, labor issues are fundamentally tied to women’s rights. The wage gap for union members is half the size of the gap for non-union workers. And female labor leaders are helping to amplify the voices of immigrants, domestic violence victims, and the working poor, among other groups whose voices are often left out of narratives, both in real life and on television.
Not to mention that once negotiations with the WGA end, the AMPTP will have to sit down with SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) to bargain, and Julie Johnson, the former stuntwoman for Charlie’s Angels, has an issue that she – and we – want front and center: the ridiculous, disgusting rate of on-set sexual harassment that stuntwomen experience. And you can sure as hell bet that we will do everything we can to support Johnson in her mission.