Monday, 21 March 2016

The Improved Status of American Women

Billie Jean King ( 1943 - )

"I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn't win that match. It would ruin the women's tour and affect all women's self esteem." - Billie Jean King (1943)

Billie Jean King, the US tennis legend and the winner of 20 Wimbledon titles, famously beat Bobby Riggs in 1973 for a $100,000 prize in "The Battle of the sexes" after he said to her that men were superior athletes.

There is a vast history that has been recorded in terms of what King has accomplished in furthering the cause of women's struggle for equality in the 1970s. She was instrumental in making it acceptable for American women to exert themselves in pursuits other than childbirth. She played a major part in the initiation of a professional women's tour. She started a women's sports magazine and a women's sports foundation.

After retiring from competitive tennis, she remained in the game -- as an announcer, coach and author. She gave clinics, became director of World Team Tennis, and played on a Legends tour. "In the '70s we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes," she said. "We had to make it OK for them to be active. Those were much scarier times for females in sports."

Kathryn Bigelow  (1951 - )

"If there's specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can't change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies." 

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Oscar for “Best Director” in the Academy Award’s 82-year history, for her film The Hurt Locker. What I found to be especially interesting is her wish that one day gender would become a “moot point” when it comes to these types of achievements. The reason I found this interesting is that the shouldn't be an issue in the first place, that you shouldn't be able to achieve as much purely based on your gender. It is worth noting also that Bigelow's directorial works such as The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty whilst garnering critical acclaim have also leaned more towards the action and thriller genre, a genre that is not too often associated with female directors.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) sent three letters to the federal government Tuesday asking for an investigation into institutionalized sexism in the industry. A proposition that could result in rules that would force studios to consider female directors alongside male ones, a proposition that Bigelow fully supports.

Bigelow, one of only four women to be nominated for an Oscar and the only woman to win one, and only 7% of the top 250 grossing films in 2014 were directed by women. 

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