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Many thanks to Elisa Kreisinger for pointing me to this fascinating collection of anonymous testimonies detailing sexism and racism in Hollywood (also via The Hathor Legacy).

The whole project is really interesting. It’s got all the intrigue of a gossip-page blind item, with the added bonus of real social import! But I wanted to single out one story in particular, from a female producer who remains nameless. This producer can’t get people to listen to her great ideas . . . until they’re voiced by a man.

She explains:

I remember when I produced my very first movie. I was sitting in a room with a very famous director and his development staff. I was the only female in the room, and I kept making suggestions to cut different scenes, [like] one too many funerals. And I was completely ignored. Cut to this very famous director. He would say the same exact thing that I had said, not even a minute after I said it. And everyone at the meeting would be like, ‘Oh, yes. Good idea. That’s what we should do!’ It was like I never said it. I was invisible. I don’t know if that was sexism, but it sure felt like it. My opinion didn’t matter. Why was I talking?

The strange phenomenon of men stealing our ideas right in front of our faces has been discussed on the Sexist before. It’s difficult to believe, because the practice is so blatant, so bold, so offensive, but trust me—-and Jennifer Kesler will back me up here—-this happens all the time. A woman says something. And then a man says the exact same thing. And then that thing is hailed as the most prescient! Hilarious! Insightful! Idea! Of all time!

This is not a privilege limited to the super-famous, well-respected Hollywood directors among us. Believe me when I tell you that far less illustrious specimens have stolen my ideas. My points, punchlines, and opinions have been lifted—-directly after I publicly voiced them at a reasonable volume—-by college boys my own age who held no particular institutional power beyond knowing a dude who had weed.

What I want to know is this: Does the crowd going wild over this Great Man’s Great Idea even realize that the idea was just stolen from a woman? Does the idea-stealer even realize it? Do they even hear her talk? Or do they willfully ignore that she ever said it in the first place?

I know that in plenty of instances, this silencing is deliberate—-one of the piece’s anonymous stories came from a black film writer whose entire screenplay was deliberately lifted by a white man—-but this silencing is so public, so obvious, that I wonder if everyone who does it has some sort of permanent mind meld that allows them to process and appropriate the ideas of women (or whatever other group of humans they happen to devalue) without fully realizing their theft. Thoughts?

Photo by Sorn, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0