The Time Has Come

by Melissa Silverstein on March 8, 2010

in Awards,Women Directors

Those were the words that Barbra Streisand uttered when she announced Kathryn Bigelow’s name as the winner of the best director Oscar.  The moment came at the end of a long and boring show that featured many male winners in most categories, but DAMN, staying up was worth it.

I never really thought this was possible even six months ago since the gender problem in Hollywood is so pervasive, but DAMN, it happened – a woman won for BEST DIRECTOR.  Director is the ultimate leader in Hollywood, the big kahuna, and now, finally a woman is in the club and that my friends, is a big deal.

After she won last night I was thinking about other female firsts that I have experienced in my lifetime.  I remember when Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court justice; I remember when Madeleine Albright became the first Secretary of State; I remember when Shannon Faulkner became the first female to go to the Citadel; I remember when Eileen Collins became the first woman to command a space shuttle mission; I remember when Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House.

And I will remember last night.

I will remember it because it came on the dawn of International Women’s Day, when many of us pause and think about the struggles that many women and girls in the world go through each and every day just to survive.

We all know that last night was symbolic, that one woman winning an award won’t help all the other women working each and every day to get their films made.  But I am betting that this morning women directors around the world will walk a little taller, smile a little brighter, and feel a bit stronger and more confident as they sweep up the glass that Bigelow shattered last night.

I hope that moms and dads around the world take the picture of Kathryn Bigelow and talk to their daughters and sons about the fact that this is a big deal for our world because it had never happened and maybe those young girls will believe that they too can win an Oscar, and maybe those boys will grow up believing that women are their equals in each and every profession.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

SW March 8, 2010 at 7:34 AM

“But I am betting that this morning women directors around the world will walk a little taller, smile a little brighter, and feel a bit stronger and more confident as they sweep up the glass that Bigelow shattered last night” …Without a doubt.

Melissa Wardy March 8, 2010 at 10:18 AM

I have been waiting all morning to read what you had to say about this amazing win! Hope no one gets cut on all of that broken glass!


Jan Lisa Huttner March 8, 2010 at 10:28 AM

“…moment came at the end of a long and boring show…”

Wow, Melissa, you & I musta been watching different shows… Look beyond the Bigelow Best Director win & here’s the big picture: women empowered by KB’s nomination voted with their hearts, in clear defiance of all the handicappers.

As I predicted, the two most vulnerable categories were BAS & BOS. The minute Boal won (trouncing Tarantino) I was on my feet screaming, & when Fletcher won for PRECIOUS (trouncing Reitman), I went into orbit.

The media’s “Battle of the Exes” blather endlessly repeated that KB & JC had 9 noms each, but as I kept saying, KB had 4 “major noms,” whereas JC mostly had teckie noms. In the end, she left with 6 Oscars (3 majors) & he left with 3 (all teckie). Furthermore, in every case where they went head-to-head (except for cinematography), she won.

This year had more upsets than any prior year I can remember, & I submit these upsets were all due to the power of female AMPAS voters!!! So here’s a big shout-out to the women voters of AMPAS: You Did It!!!

Michelle March 8, 2010 at 11:06 AM

I don’t know. I looked at Barbara and thought, Babs, it should have been you…. a long time ago.

Rhea March 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Awesome! Let’s hope this is the start of something great for women in film, and not just an exception to business as usual.

Pat March 8, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Yes, it should have been Babs … a long time ago. As I recall, her picture got nominated, but she didn’t. (“What did it do, direct itself?” Billy Crystal as MC) In any event, I loved that they had Streisand present to Bigelow. Poetic justice, and an acknowledgment to Babs from the industry as one of the women who led the way. It was a great moment!

Jan Lisa Huttner March 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Absolutely right, Michelle!!! Having Barbra Steisand on stage at that precise moment was not only an inspired choice of presenter, but it also showed faith in the ultimate outcome. By implication, it was the most high stakes apology I think I’ve ever seen!!!

Stephanie March 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM

What an awfully boring show to have to sit through but I just had to make it so I could see Bigelow win. When Barbra Streisand called KB’s name I actually cried. It doesn’t mean the struggle for the female filmmaker will be any easier – but it’s one less wall that’s been broken down for us,

Michelle March 8, 2010 at 6:24 PM

The minute Babs walked on stage, I knew the winner was Bigelow. It was a little too obvious and part of me wanted to hear more from Barbara than from Katherine because as much as it meant to Bigelow, for a trailblazer like Barbara Streisand who took one heck of a lot of abuse for being a strong woman, I thought it would mean more. And I’m sorry to sound jaded, but the first woman is also stunningly attractive and I can’t help think that it didn’t hurt when getting the male vote. Neither does being the ex of the man a lot of people feel a great deal of resentment towards.

Nic March 8, 2010 at 6:36 PM

I agree wholeheartedly that Kathryn Bigelow thoroughly deserved the win, and entirely on merit. The Hurt Locker is an astonishing film. However, I was annoyed that, after Bigelow had constantly downplayed the whole ‘first woman to win director’ over the entire awards season, and seemed embarrassed by it, only to have Barbara Streisand make a whole fuss about it and undermine everything Bigelow had tried to avoid. It is fantastic that a woman has won best director, of course, but do we really need Bigelow to be played off with ‘I am woman’, or dramatic announcements like ‘the time has come’? You be the judge.

cgeye March 8, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Yes, we do.

Because the only thing more distasteful than no modesty is false modesty — and she could have told her studio not to pursue an Oscar campaign. Summit doesn’t do that normally, ’cause if it did, it would have gone after tech awards, at least, for its TWILIGHT films.

We’re supposed to be honest competitors, right? And directors are generals who know what they fight for. And Cameron pursued the “too big to fail” strategy for all it was worth.

So, hell, yeah, we need that milestone to be noted on stage, because the next push by those who don’t think women should have equal chances to succeed in Hollywood except on their backs will be to say it’s not much of a big deal after all. Fuck, yes, it’s important enough to crow about. Nothing will change by being demure about taking power.

Peter March 9, 2010 at 2:26 AM

“maybe those boys will grow up believing that women are their equals in each and every profession.” No they are not. Women are not combat soldiers, NY Firefighters, Consruction Workers Miners, Baggage Handellers or all of the hasardous dangerous dirty jobs that men do. If there are any women in these proffesions they are the exception that proves the rule. Women are very selective about what they want from the male world. They do not want equality with men, they want eqaulity with successful western white men. Most women choose not to do these jobs, why would they. Most Directors and filmmakers are Male. So they will always win most of the awards

Karen March 9, 2010 at 2:38 AM

Great moment indeed!

Sabina March 9, 2010 at 4:52 AM

Excuse me Peter, the reason why women are not combat soldiers NY Firefighters, Consruction Workers Miners, Baggage Handellers or all of the hasardous dangerous dirty jobs that men do is because men don’t think women can do those jobs.

Talk about double standard, first men make the false claim that women are not strong enough to do those jobs, leading to generations of women being socialized into thinking we can’t do these jobs and then make the claim that women are not doing these jobs selectively (triple standard). Like as if the double standard was not enough!

By the way the false claim that men make that women can’t do these tough jobs are the same false claims that were made of blacks and jews.

Peter I hope you are never become a father of a daughter. If fathers of daughters did anything for their daughter’s human rights the way generation of mothers of daughters have fought like Warriors for their daughter’s human rights, then I can assure women would be much closer to equality, we would be where black men and Jews are right now. No father of a daughter has said give my daughter liberty or give me death. But mothers and feminist have fought a war, one where they did not fire a gun or drop a bomb, they fought like Warriors just to give us the rights we have now and better lives, lives which women in Pakistan can only hope and dream of. So to men who think women are not tough enough, or we have not fought the good fight, or we selectively choose the jobs we want, go to hell!!!.

So Peter grow up and stop acting like a 13 year old, hell there are children more mature than grown men are. I am a Pakistani women who is grateful I was not born nor did I grow up in Pakistan and I have had enough of Misogynist men like you and enough of the still rampant misogyny in western cultures. This lack of progress in human rights for women in western cultures and the lack of respect shown to women in western cultures is one of the reason why the gender apartheid of women in other cultures and sex slavery of women still exists.

shortcinema March 9, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I think of the image of Jesse Jackson crying when Obama won the presidency that was me on Sunday night. I was tearing up when Kathryn Bigelow won for best director and it was given to her by Barbra Streisand. I cried.

shortcinema March 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM

@Michelle “I don’t know. I looked at Barbara and thought, Babs, it should have been you…. a long time ago.”

Amen to that

Ryan Stancil March 9, 2010 at 11:55 PM

This is a great moment for women who are talented, but I would advise forgetting about Nancy Pelosi. Even though you reference her as a first, she should not even be mentioned in good fashion with as much heat as she brings on this nation.

Shame on her.

Peter March 10, 2010 at 4:43 AM

To Sabina’s comment. In the West women do choose the jobs they do or in this context don’t do. If a job mentions oil spill, beach, sand, shovel and sand bags female do not sign up for it. If women can do all of the physical and dangerous jobs that men do why don’t more choose to do them. The truth is they do not want to do them. It is not just because men don’t think they can not. Have you ever done one of these types of jobs, or any of the women reading this. How many of you pseudo feminists can change a tire. Why is that?

You can write what ever science curriculum you like, build more film schools, it does not mean you will get many more female scientists or film makers. As history has shown. Ask any group of teenagers what they are going to do after school, work wise (as I have done many times) and their choices will tend to follow existing gender lines. It is not because girls do not think that they are allowed to do certain jobs. Teenage girls are for the most part are like you, they think that they can do anything, especially male jobs. There are no perceived barriers as you imply. Apart from ability and ambition of course.

Some of the logical unequivocal reasons that women do not perform combat roles in the military is: their bones break easier, they do not have the stamina and strength (esp upper body) as men. (See 3 sets v 5 in Grand Slam Tennis tournaments.) Male combat soldier also do not believe females will be reliable when in combat. (Are you going to say they have to take females into combat. Female soldiers are not up against other women in combat. They would be up against men.) Men have a natural disposition to protect women. (The unpaid body guard, all men know this one) In Israel’s 1948 war females did fight. But they found that if one was killed the men went on an uncontrolled killing spree. Females in the Israeli military do not perform combat roles to this day. (They also serve 2 yrs national service and men 3yrs) Men have been playing at killing each other since they were small boys. Warrior hood is genes and memes. Females today (Gen Y) for the most part have been “coddled and pampered to self absorption”. They are a bunch of princesses, or haven’t you noticed.

Being a pseudo feminist is easy. You need to show more respect for what men do. If they did not do it would not get done. Men and women are different. Feminism should try discussing this without knee jerk reactions like yours.

Debbie March 10, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Peter, you know what so funny about your ridiculous comments. Kathryn Bigelow is 6 feet and in pretty good shape. When filming one of the desert scenes in extreme heat, she wanted to get a shot from the top of a hill. Mark Boal reported that most of these young actors were in excellent physical shape (having trained to look like soldiers). But guess who made it to the top of the hill first, not even winded, Kathryn Bigelow. The guys were all vomiting by the side of the road. Human beings have different aptitudes, just depends what you got in the gene pool. But aptitude is not divided by gender or race, ask any geneticist. If you are going to make these statements, you need to back them up with scientific facts, not just your opinions.

Peter March 10, 2010 at 11:47 PM

My statements are facts where are yours? I am not talking about attitude, physically men are stronger. You also miss quote the incident you refer to (was it a road or a hill?). It was a member of the crew that vomited from exertion not an actor probably because they were carrying equipment. Were the actors in full battle kit or carrying a weapon? What was she carrying, a clip board. Even if what you said were true she is an exception that proves the rule. How would you have gone on that hill. How do you think females compare at the physical tasks of basic training for the military, they do not out perform males, ever.

I have seen the Hurt Locker it is a excellent film. However, you may have noticed that there were no female military personal in it anywhere, not even walking past in the background. It is about men in war. Male military personal out numbered females in Iraq 100:1 fatal casualties 450:1. You do not want that sort of equality do you.

Debbie March 11, 2010 at 9:27 AM

And the CIA puts it’s female officers through paramilitary training with the men (including former members of Special Forces). Call them up and check it out. The candidates are chosen based on their skills. There is no grading on a curve, if you fail the tests you’re out. They’re in the business of winning, so they don’t fall prey to weak minded prejudice.

I could also detail the training a FBI agents and Secret Service, many of whom are female, but I really don’t have time to continue this conversation.

Perry March 12, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Everything Peter says is true – in his own mind. He’s obviously stuck in some kind of sad time warp where women wander around with broken bones and cadres of men eager to protect them from the ravages of other men. Let’s leave him to his petty, vapid assessments of what women are capable of doing and achieving and desiring, because in the end, all of his comments speak volumes more about his own character and capabilities than they do about Kathryn Bigelow’s, or mine, or any other woman’s.

Peter March 14, 2010 at 5:34 AM

The personal insults are adding up. Firstly a correction, male to female fatal casualties in Iraq are 45:1 not as I previously stated.

All of your examples are exceptions that prove the rule. There are some female secret service agents not many, relative to male. The Military and Firefighting services have lowered their physical requirements in recent years to accommodate females. “Call them up and check it out”

It is against Military law for women to perform combat roles. They are not placed at the tip of the spear. It is true since 1994 that they are now in more danger than ever before, especially in Iraq. Women also do not have a history of “fighting” for the country. The 65 million soldiers mobilized in WWI were all men. The 73 000 British or 11 000 Australian soldiers for example who’s bodies were never found, with no know grave, were all men. In WWII World wide about 550 female military died (most of these were accident or illness). Male military dead about 22 000 000. For every story you could find of a woman in military history there are about 100 000 stories of men.

Try and think, have you ever seen a photograph or footage, historical or contemporary of a female in a Western army in actual combat shooting at or being shot at by the enemy. I am not talking about posing for a photograph holding an assault rifle or posing behind a machine gun in the turret of a humve, anyone could do that. There is a mountain of such images of men. Why none of females? If any exist let me know.

How is it that women are all suddenly so equal now, how did that happen. Because you say so. What have they done historically in war or as first responders generally to feel they deserve such respect, equal respect? About 1.2 million American men have died in all U.S wars. How many women? Do you think other counties should have female combat soldiers and U.S soldiers should have to shoot them. What exactly is your point? The military is not a place for some sort of PC social experiment. Vapid enough for you?

Melissa Silverstein March 14, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Ok- everyone, this conversation is going no where fast. Let’s let it go.


Perry March 15, 2010 at 3:07 PM

That was my point, Melissa. We’ll never change Peter’s mind about anything whether we use insults or logic. Nobody, male or female, should ever have to be placed “at the tip of the spear,” an inane metric itself, in furtherance of war and destruction, but women are already there in many more ways than the poster will ever be able to acknowledge. In the Congo, Darfur, Argentina, and far too many other places, wherever women are attacked, subjugated, mutilated, and killed just because they are women, millions have been in battle for their very survival since time began, but that’s not the point either. Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar win signaled something special, and most of us here on your website simply want to acknowledge that without turning this dialogue into a sixth-grade pissing contest! Thank you for providing us with a forum in which we can do that, and for keeping our comments relatively civil.

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