We have often heard it be said that women have a hard time living in a man’s world, but not many of us have actually stopped to give thought to the matter that we openly accept the struggles that women face in the labor force. This is the case for the majority of industries, however its effect is particularly notable within Hollywood, where a celebrity’s ownership of their own identity comes into question.
The ongoing presence of the “glass ceiling” (a phrase coined by the Wall Street Journal to express the seemingly invisible barriers that women face in attempting to advance their positions in corporations) has claimed its victims in Hollywood over the years, as gender inequality in the industry has seeped its way into the personal lives of many celebrities. The issue has been liable for breaking up couples and ruining reputations in the past. Such was the case for Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt in 2005, when tabloids claimed that their marriage wouldn’t work out because she was too invested in her job and would not be able to devote time to creating a family with Brad.
However, working moms all over the globe would argue the contrary. Who’s to say that one needs to sacrifice a career in order to have a family? The problem arises when we note that the masses are under the misconception that household work belongs to women, period. The notion that the home and family are the responsibility of the female party in a heterosexual marriage is especially troublesome when you consider this to be incompatible to a career.
Moreover, this archaic vision of women continually results in the denouncing of women trying to take control of their own lives, especially in Hollywood. Recently, actress Renée Zellweger was not only challenged in her role as a woman, but also in her role as proprietor of her own body. Tabloids had a field-day with rumors of Zellweger’s alleged plastic surgery procedure, where the arguments mainly focused on the fact that they interpreted her as trying to change her physical identity—because God forbid women be satisfied by their appearance!
Nonetheless, the issue brings up two very important arguments: that women should not have to change the way that they look in order to be successful within the entertainment industry, and even more paramount: that women should be allowed to change their image if they want to. Although both seem to be arguments from different schools of thought, they go back to the root of things—the restricted freedom of women to go about their lives without being questioned or criticized in all industries.
This being a prominent issue, many celebrities have openly spoken out against the misogyny that they face in their daily lives. Mindy Kaling from The Mindy Project expresses her discontent with the issue, especially during interviews, saying: “More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look […] Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90 percent of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result, the interview of me reads like I’m interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood […]”.
Furthermore, Juno and The East actress, Ellen Page, was asked about sexism in the industry in an interview with The Guardian, and said: “It’s constant! It’s how you’re treated, it’s how you’re looked at, how you’re expected to look in a photoshoot, it’s how you’re expected to shut up and not have an opinion, it’s how you…If you’re a girl and you don’t fit the very specific version of what a girl should be, which is always from a man’s perspective, then you’re a little bit at a loss.”