Casting couch, do you know where this term was coined? The entertainment industry, you are right! This couch is a place where young actors and actresses without any godfathers in the industry are forced to offer sexual favours in return for the work they get. Why are we telling you this? It’s not like we’re having a new conversation, but it’s still infuriating. We are telling you this because even though there’s been a lot of talk about the situation of women in the entertainment industry–whether it’s Bollywood or Hollywood–that couch still exists and women still hold a precarious position in the industry, which is largely controlled by men.
Don’t believe us, here’s a fun fact: Only five women were nominated for the Best Director category in the 92-year history of the Academy in January this year. The entertainment industry has always been a male-dominated world. And the recent interview by pop star Beyoncé Knowles-Carter once again proves exactly that.
Beyonce spoke about sexism that is still prevalent in the music industry in her ‘Dear Class of 2020’ video. ‘Dear Class of 2020’ is a virtual commencement event, which aired on June 6 on YouTube. The event featured celebrity speakers, performances, and lots of special guests. The event was a celebration of everyone in the Class of 2020, High School, College and University.
“The entertainment business is still very sexist. It’s still very male-dominated and as a woman, I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to what I knew I had to do — to run my label, and management company, to direct my films and produce my tours that meant ownership, owning my masters, owning my art, owning my future and writing my own story. Not enough Black women had a seat at the table. So I had to go and chop down that wood and build my own table. Then I had to invite the best there was to have a seat. That meant hiring women, men outsiders, underdogs, people that were overlook and waiting to be seen,” she said.
She congratulated the class of 2020 for making it in the middle of a global crisis and a racial pandemic, referring to the killing of George Floyd, a black man who was allegedly suffocated to death by a police officer in Minneapolis.
Beyonce further elaborated on how race and gender super always superseded the talent in the music industry. “Many of the best creatives and business people, who although supremely qualified and talented, were turned down over and over as executives at major corporations because they were female or because of racial disparity. And I’ve been very proud to provide them with a place at my table. One of the main purposes of my art for many years has been dedicated to showing the beauty of Black people to the world, our history, our profundity and the value of Black lives. I’ve tried my best to pull down the veil of appeasement to those who may feel uncomfortable with our excellence,” she said.
Beyonce signed off with cheerful words for all those who have been categorised as ‘others’ time and again. She went on to say, “Your queerness is beautiful, your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you, is beautiful. I hope you continue to go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself. That it’s your time now, make them see you.”
Sexism, misogyny exists at a time when we have laws addressing sexual harassment at the workplace. Isn’t that shocking in itself? It’s time that the industry understands that women are there because they want to be. And that they work as hard as their male counterparts to achieve what they duly deserve.
Featured Image: Instagram