Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Discrimination Again and Again


I just wanted to share something with you that made me so sad, mad, then sad again. I am a member of the I.A.T.S.E local 729 motion picture set painter sign writers union in Los Angeles. I've experienced sexism in all forms during my 15 year career as a set painter but I have to say it's been a while until the other day. I've been working on and off on a popular television hospital show. My good friend, let's say his name is "Joe" a wonderful man and equal opportunity employer who recently had a turn over in his department. He had the chance to hire another full time person. Thrilled to offer the position to his/our friend and most excellent painter "Mary May" he was told by the art department and construction department he had to hire a man. Their reason being that they didn't want any "drama" and wanted to be able to talk about guy things without worrying about a woman around. Joe was shocked and angered however not wanting to rock the boat needing the job desperately he complied. For Mary or Joe to report or try to combat this discrimination would only mean blacklisting for both of them. This actually happened to me once in 2005 when I was told by another woman paint boss she had to hire a man due to her bosses request so I was not surprised just disgusted and sad.

An interesting turn of events when Joe ended up hiring Mary as a day player in turn making her the token woman thus I lost my job as he didn't feel comfortable hiring any other women, for the moment. I look forward to the day when men in our union can say to sexist construction coordinators/foremen and production designers, "I think I should be responsible to hire the person who I think i best for the job".

I am also in the middle of painting an art show called "Essential Tools for the Modern Woman" a celebration of women which will now also be a bit more political than I originally planned. I've been researching sexism and feminism for years revisiting that research for more recent information I came across this interesting article http://www.newsweek.com/2010/03/22/feminism-or-bust.html. I may not be able to fight the movie machine but I can educate my daughter and others around me to the ongoing problem that is not even close to being resolved.

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