Like any prejudice, sexism can be insidious. With enough pressure, even people who think that they’re acting on behalf of gender equality – as an advocate or an ally – can find that they’ve slipped into habits or mindsets that put them on the wrong side of an issue. And no issue is as frustrating for audiences as Hollywood’s gender double-standard. A few days ago, Jessica Chastain came out against pay inequality in Hollywood, noting that she had effectively drawn a line in the sand so people would understand where she stood. And now actress Anne Hathaway has done something even more difficult – and, for my money, even more courageous – by admitting there have been times in her career where she failed to give her female collaborators a fair shake.
In a conversation with film critic Peter Travers on ABC News, Hathaway was asked to reflect on a time in her career where she felt she learned the most about her trade, and her response came as a surprise. The actress pointed to the motion picture “One Day” as a time where she let her own biases – what she refers to in the interview as “internalized mysogyny” – affect her relationship with director Lone Scherfig. “I really regret not trusting her more easily,” Hathaway admitted in the interview, “and I am to this day scared that the reason I didn’t trust her the way I trust some of the other directors I work with is because she’s a woman.”
Hathaway had more to say, particularly about working with first-time directors:
I’m getting red talking about this, it feels like a confession, but I think it’s something we should talk about. When I get a script, when I see a first film directed by a woman, I have in the past focused on what was wrong with it. And when I see a film directed by, first-time directed by a man, I focus on what’s right with it. I can only acknowledge that I’ve done that and I don’t want to do that anymore.
As Hathaway notes, it’s both incredibly difficult for a woman to direct a feature, let alone be brought back for several movies. We’ve seen this double-standard play out over the years with blockbusters movies, where a male director coming off a modestly budgeted success will suddenly be given the reins to a $100 million dollar movie. While it might have been difficult for Hathaway to discuss, it is indeed an important conversation to have.