By: Kate Gruetter
Since the beginning of Hollywood, audiences have watched as media sources have criticized and judged females in the spotlight. However, in the past decade, we’ve watched new patterns of misogyny in the media emerge, pitting female artists against each other. This process is harmful to women, as it supports preconceived stereotypes that women don’t support each other or are highly competitive, and leads to a complete disregard of the impressive work of both artists.
After the media reported accusations of actress Jessica Chastain holding a three-year-long grudge against Jennifer Lawrence for winning an Academy Award for Best Female Lead in 2013, Chastain stated that, “There has been a stigma out there that women don’t work well together. I’ve never seen women like this. I remember growing up hearing this myth, that women fight when they’re together and it’s completely inaccurate. I’ve never seen it.” The actress clarified her feelings regarding the supposed ‘bad blood’ between her and Lawrence, stating that it perpetuates an idea that women are hard to work with and can’t get along. This constant comparison of different females’ successes, along with constant rumors about behavior on set stir up seemingly harmless drama that can unconsciously uphold biases against women.
Another effect of these actions is allowing patriarchal power systems to stay intact. Crazy Rich Asians actress Constance Wu supports this idea when she stated that, “If it’s a board meeting of all women and there’s only one seat for a man, the men will start becoming competitive. It’s about scarcity, not gender.”
This behavior results in audiences ignoring females’ success and accomplishments, and engaging in media-influenced gossip and judgment regarding their character instead. For example, the media’s constant back-and-forth regarding possible drama between singer-songwriters Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter led to more discussion about their personal and romantic lives than their actual work. Listeners took sides rather than acknowledging both women’s accomplishments.
Somehow, the media has deemed women’s competition more relevant than their success, and audiences and supposed “fans” continue this trend. This is harmful because it, once again, creates a stereotype that all women care about is men, and it dumbs down their work to drama, rather than its actual message or intent. It diverges the focus from the artists’ work as a whole, which leads to more ignorance of female success and accomplishments.
Drama can be fun, and oftentimes artists find ways to feed off of it for success. However, when female celebrities begin to be pitted against each other constantly, harmless gossip turns to hurtful consequences, ultimately keeping the patriarchy in power. So, the next time you find yourself attempting to take sides or make assumptions about a female artist’s actions, consider celebrating and supporting the artist instead.
(Sources: Independent, Bustle, Haute Living)
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