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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gender(ed) Awards*

posted by Sybil Vane
Since the Golden Globes (which I skipped Jack Bauer to watch) (and what a tragic moment this is for the Bitch collective to be pondering award)s, I have been obsessing over something that is so clearly something I should've thought about by now, but haven't. Which probably gives it a false sense of significance. But anyway.

Is it not so strange that all the awards shows for non-music, that is, all the completely performance based awards (because at least in theory things like Best Album are about writing) segregate the actual performance awards by gender? Not Best Screenplay by a Man or Best Cinematography by a Woman, but always and across the board Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor. What's the deal with that?

It's all about the performance aspect, no? The writing and directing and score and costuming awards we can think of as awarding a discreet skill. But performativity, as I figure it, is so inextricably linked to gender that we cant think of ways to compare performances across those lines. I admit it's hard for me to conceive, because of conditioning, of the nominees being Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, and Mickey Rourke. And if such a thing ever were the case, wouldn't it be fascinating to see how the gender allocation of award winners broke down? How else to make clear the relative dearth of choice roles for women?

Is it also an appearance thing? Like, the performance-based awards are implicitly partly about appearance and the maintenance of gender segregation is a symptom of the fact that we use completely different, irreconcilable aesthetic paradigms for men and women? And no one gives a shit what he screenwriter looks like?

So anyway. That's what I've been thinking about for the last few days, in the few minutes of the day that I am not obsessing about whether I will get a campus interview call. I think I am back to baking tonight.

*Sometimes the PhD gets the best of me and I can't resist the gimmicky-parentheses-in-title-conference-paper move.

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