Film and Sexism

Women in the film industry continue to experience sexism through gender pay gaps and lack of recognition and reward, recent discussions have shown.

Whilst gender inequality and sexism in the entertainment industry are generally considered invisible in today’s post-feminist context, it is evident that these archaic attitudes still exist.

Recently, Sky News (“Hollywood spits women out”, 2017) published an article, addressing such an attitude: the ongoing gender pay gap in film.

Oscar-winning actor Emma Thompson says that “sexism and unpleasantness” in the acting industry is worse than ever. Source: The Guardian.

In the article, Dame Julie Walters says it is wrong that male actors earn more money than their female co-stars for doing “…the same bloody job” (“Hollywood spits women out”, 2017).

It seems this lack of recognition is not uncommon, even for experienced female personalities.

Indeed, actor Bryan Cranston believes it is more difficult for older women in Hollywood, as they are considered ‘unfortunate’, whereas older men are viewed as ‘dignified’ (“Hollywood spits women out”, 2017).

Actor Bryan Cranston says that there is a “double standard” in Hollywood. Source: The Independent.

In addition, women in the entertainment industry are often subjected to violent and sexually explicit comments (Bainbridge, Goc, & Tynan, 2015, p. 260).

Examples of these comments, as noted by Bainbridge et al. (2015, pp. 258 & 261), include: “[she’s] …menstruating like a banshee”; “I’d stick my dick in that”; and “[she’s a] cold bitch who just needs to get laid”.

This kind of behaviour is referred to by cultural critic, feminist scholar and journalist Anita Sarkeesian (2012) as “visual misogyny” or textual abuse.

Cultural critic, feminist scholar and journalist Anita Sarkeesian. Source:

Sadly, it seems this sexism is, for now, considered ‘the norm’, with some women considering the film industry to have gender inequality “…written into the psychological contract” (Jones & Pringle, 2015, p. 43).


Bainbridge, J., Goc, N., & Tynan, L. (2015). Media and journalism: New approaches to theory and practice (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Bryan Cranston: The rise of Donald Trump ‘could be a good thing’. (2016, November 2). The Independent. Retrieved from

Emma Thompson: Sexism in acting industry is worse than ever. (2015, July 21). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Hollywood spits women out: Cranston. (2017, July 29). Sky News. Retrieved from

Horne, S. (2016). What is modern sexism and are you guilty? Retrieved from

Jones, D., & Pringle, J. K. (2015). Unmanageable inequalities: Sexism in the film industry. The Sociological Review, 63(1), 37-49. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.12239

Sarkeesian, A. (n.d.). Anita Sarkeesian. Retrieved from

Sarkeesian, A. (2012, July 1). Image-based harassment and visual misogyny [web log post]. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from


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