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Marcia Gay Harden Talks Sexism in Hollywood: “I Think We Play Into It When We Become Victims”

"I think [sexism is] there and it’s also what you pay attention to."


In the continuing trend of Hollywood actresses speaking out about and being asked about sexism in Hollywood, Marcia Gay Harden recently spoke about her experiences as a woman in the entertainment industry. She has a slightly different take than we’ve been hearing lately.

In a recent interview with The Guardian in the UK, Harden acknowledged that there’s still a sexism problem in Hollywood, both in how women are treated within the industry, and how women in entertainment are reported about in the media. When asked about whether forceful women in Hollywood are judged more harshly, Harden says:

It’s not even harsher: it’s more diminutive. Two artistic women are having artistic conflict in the creation process and it’s written up as bitching, moaning and whinging – whereas, if it’s two guys, it’s written up as a battle of creation between gods and it’s completely acceptable.

However, she also thinks that women can take some ownership over how they handle the sexism they receive:

I think it’s there and it’s also what you pay attention to. I try not to focus on what I don’t have, but on what I want and how am I going to get it. Absolutely there’s sexism, but I think we play into it when we become victims.

When asked about whether sexism affects the roles she plays, Harden says that she’s more affected by her age – and not as an older woman, but that age in general is a consideration:

Oh my gosh, can you just imagine the audience flocking to see Marcia Gay Harden conquering the soldiers and climbing hills in Iwo Jima with a sword. I mean, there’s an audience for action films but – even with Liam – when you reach a certain age, your audience diminishes and you have to be realistic about that. There’s not four cents of me that thinks I could keep up with Angelina Jolie or Charlize Theron or Shailene Woodley as they’re climbing up walls.

Actually, I think it’d be pretty rad to see Marcia Gay Harden take on a badass action role! I’m having a little more trouble with what she has to say about “playing into” sexism. I get what she’s trying to say – that we should focus on the positive, and not let the sexism out there define us or what we do. However, I think it’s a fine line between “focusing on the positive,” and ignoring the negative. I agree that we should shine a light on the awesome things women are doing, and celebrate how far we’ve come, but if you don’t “pay attention” to the sexism, you sure as hell aren’t going to be able to change it.

(Image via Disney/ABC Television Group on Flickr)

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