Author of Jesus Rode a Donkey:
Why the Republicans Don't' Have a Corner on Christ
A number of conservative (usually rich) Republicans have said that discrimination is a thing of the past, and that we should cut all affirmative action programs. In many cases, conservatives don’t see the social structures that keep problems in place, but see problems as individual problems. Conservative Christians often say that these have to be solved through repentance and through becoming more “Christian”. This is often their answer to every problem and it’s easy to see that this Christian administration is no proof of this approach. Liberals and Progressives are more often apt to deal in complexity. They want to research, to try to figure out the causes, to try to figure out what can be done to fix it. They often see that the problem exists because of social structures, not because of the lack of ability of various genders or races. The issue of discrimination is complex. Those who haven’t been discriminated against, don’t think it exists. Some who have been discriminated against, don’t notice it. Others who have endured discrimination think it’s all their fault. Some compete for who gets it worse – women? Blacks? Hispanics? Asians? Some look for some light and hope, and when they see it, believe the problem is solved. In order to decide whether we still need affirmative action programs – of any sort – we first have to recognize whether the problem still exists. What proof will tell us that this is not an issue of the past? When I did interviews for my book, When Women Call the Shots: The Developing Power and Influence of Women in Television and Film, a number of high profile women said that 50% of women in any occupation was the goal, but a healthy third would tell us that we had leveled the playing field. They mentioned that when there’s at least one-third of either gender, each has a voice at the table. And they said this has to operate at every level – from the entry level positions to the highest level of the Board of Directors and the CEO’s. In terms of race, this would mean something close to the percentage of people from each race who exist in our society, figuring that intelligence and ability, when given an equal chance, has equal contributions to make. This is not exact nor is it meant to be, but if there’s a Board of twenty people, and there are no women, no blacks, Hispanics, or Asians, even though they have some relationship to the particular industry, then one knows, clearly, that discrimination, in some form, still exists. Of course, it may not be level because people aren’t trained, which means making sure that training programs create equal accessibility. If one takes the idea of a “healthy third” for women, and a place at the table for those from other races, (which should also include minority women), then it’s clear how very few professions have achieved equality. I’ve worked in the film industry for 25 years, and have seen how little progress there has been in terms of women directors, women producers, and women writers which still hover between 9-25%. In film schools, there are about equal women and men who go to film school, but not equal numbers who get jobs upon graduating. Yet, this is considered one of the most liberal industries (not true!) You only need to look at the credits of any film or television show, and count the number of men versus the number of women, and you can see that little progress has been made. The best example of women in production occurred in Demi Moore’s film (which she also produced), G.I. Jane, where the production crew had about 24% women. Women have done better in the film industry as executives. Most studios and production companies have half or more women as directors of development and vice-presidents, and a number of studios and some networks have, or have had, women presidents. In some cases, this does trickle down. When Amy Pascal became President of Columbia Studios, one year there were almost 40% women writers on projects. But far more needs to be done. Some solutions to problems need consciousness-raising – something that all of us need to do. Think of your own business and count the number of minorities and women at every level. If it’s equal in your company, look at a few other companies in your city. There are a few professions where break-throughs have occurred. There are about equal number of male and female authors of books. And look at the NASA program for astronauts – where the Endeavor is soaring with two women and five men, one black. Then take a look at the Republican candidates, and see how far we have to go.