Frances McDormand placed her Oscar at her feet and proclaimed, “I’ve got some things to say.”
An hour before Ms. McDormand received her Best Actress Oscar, my 11-year-old daughter staggered into the living room. At first, I was annoyed that my Oscars viewing time was being intruded upon, but the Oscars are best enjoyed with others and it was supposed to be a momentous occasion for women, so I opened my arms for my daughter to join me on the couch. As the Oscars moved through the evening, my daughter moved to the floor. She placed a pillow and a blanket on the carpet and stretched out as though she was about to drift off to sleep.
And then, the great actress took the stage and asked every woman who was nominated for an award to stand up. Led by Meryl Streep, one by one each nominated woman rose. An overhead camera scanned the crowd. Now, Francis McDormand did this so everyone would take note of those women and more would be invited to participate in film-making conversations – that the cinema people of power would be more inclusive and hire those standing. That more women would be featured in films, direct films, produce films, and write films. And it was indeed a rallying cry. A challenge for every entertainer to include an “inclusion rider” in their contract, which would make studios cast more minorities. But something else was blatantly obvious as the camera scanned the audience.
“That’s it!?” cried out my daughter as she sat up. Her eyes were wide as her head turned. Among the sea of attendees, only a small number of those in attendance stood up. And I had another one of those parenting moments I hate. It’s the moment when the realization of how hard it is for women in this world hits my daughter like a ton of bricks. I hate when the world’s reality overtakes her perceptions. In her mind, the world is hers for the taking; she can achieve anything. But as the women seated around the auditorium can attest, the reality is that many women have not been able to achieve their dreams. “Me Too” and “Times Up” is necessary because the workplace, and not just in the film industry, is far from equal.
I hope that an “inclusion rider” appears in every contract from here on out. That women and people of color will be invited to the table and that an invitation to their tables will be in high demand. My daughter has big dreams and she should have the same possibilities, hopes, obstacles, and opportunities as my son.
World, you have been put on notice. “That’s it?” is no longer a question, but a statement.