And the Oscar goes to…

And the Oscar goes to…

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The 88th annual Academy Awards were last Sunday! If you’re like us (meaning, not a VIP, and therefore, not in attendance) you might have watched from your couch with a good cheese plate.

If you missed the broadcast, maybe you saw a recap of the winners online, or some of the headlines. If not, here’s a short recap!

Girl Scout Cookies stole the show (obviously)

Host Chris Rock introduced his daughters’ troop, which then proceeded to sell $65 thousand in cookies to the attendees, proving once and for all, that celebrities are just regular people! Also, Dad of the Year Award – right here!

We are SO THANKFUL that he put Girl Scouts front and center in such a public way! That’s a HUGE win in our book! Can you believe that 34.3 million people watched those confident girls march right up to celebs and sell cookies?!

Addressing the elephant in the room

Rock also immediately addressed the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in his opening monologue.

The hashtag began trending when the 2016 nominees were announced in January and included exactly zero percent diversity in any of the four acting categories – as in, all 20 nominees were white…for the second year in a row.

The people who actually vote on the nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, “is comprised of 7,000 accomplished men and women working in cinema,” and it has similar achievement in the category of Lacking Diversity.

The academy doesn’t publish a membership list, which raises speculation about its demographics. However, a 2012 investigation by the LA Times reported that the overall Academy members are 94% white, with a median age of 62…and that 77% of its members are male.

Think of all the advancements in movies and cinema since the academy came to be in 1927: color picture, 3D, animation, and computer generation! Boy, what amazing times we live in!

Amazing times indeed…but the academy still has only ever had three female presidents: Bette Davis for two months in in 1941, Faye Kanin in 1979, and currently, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

A few weeks after the nominees were announced and the backlash began, the Academy officially announced plans to diversify its membership. Their goal is to double the number of women and diverse members in the academy by 2020.  Boone Isaacs promises that the academy’s review of their membership recruitment is “in order to bring about much needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”

These are momentous and important steps being taken, but it’s a shame that it took almost 90 years and a whole lotta outrage to spark the change.

But then this happened, and you might not have even noticed…

While we are super grateful that those girls got to practice the 5 Skills of the Cookie Program in a BIG way, we have to address the undermining of the #AskHerMore campaign that also occurred during the opening monologue.

Side note: we love jokes. LOVE THEM! Memes, cat videos, Vines, skits, sketches, puns…love it all. But there are some things we take seriously, and sexism is one of them.

To catch you up: The Representation Project started the #AskHerMore campaign in 2014, which is basically a challenge to the media and public to ask the ladies on the red carpet something besides “who/what are you wearing?!”

But then it became part of the evening’s fodder, because Rock said “everything isn’t sexism, everything isn’t racism.”

Wait…what just happened? Diversity gets a huge shout out, but then it’s turned into a joke? Taking campaigns like #AskHerMore seriously is critical to leveling the playing field, and joking about it seems like a step in the wrong direction.

We get it, we really do! Ladies’ fashion tends to be more daring, eye catching, and unique (sorry, suits), which obviously prompts the question.

Actresses are women, not just mannequins, who have worked and worked to get where they are…and the best question we can come up with is “Hey beautiful! What are you wearing?”

Nothing about influence, character study, artistic achievements – but tons about dresses and jewelry. Gotta keep those gossip magazines and websites happy, right?

The Representation Project weighed in on the whole thing.

“Chris Rock touched on important subjects in his monologue, including #OscarsSoWhite and #AskHerMore. Jokes aside, sexism is a very real issue in Hollywood. In an industry where only one-third of speaking characters in films from 2014-2015 were female and only 28.3% of speaking characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, we have a lot of work to do. Representation on-screen needs to match our population before we can dismiss #AskHerMore as silly fodder. Surely at the Academy Awards, we can talk about women in ways that celebrate their artistic achievements and do not reduce them solely to their looks, beauty, and sexuality. #AskHerMore suggests that reporters can ask about the dress, but also that a woman is more than what she wears.”

Before you pick a side and think the proverbial sensitive-o-meter needs to be re-calibrated, notice that the hashtag is NOT #DontAskHerWhatShesWearing…it’s ask her MORE than what she’s wearing.

#AskHerMore applies outside of Hollywood red carpets, too. 

Sure, your kid probably doesn’t get asked every day who designed her jeans and T-shirt, but if she did, what backhanded message would that send?

Your brain isn’t important, but your outfit sure is!

Your ideas aren’t relevant, but your shoes are so on point right now!

Your opinion doesn’t matter, but your hair looks FAB!

Nobody really cares what you think, but you are so pretty!

You can bring the #AskHerMore message home. Ask her MORE than just how her day was, ask her MORE about what she thinks about current issues, ask her MORE about her dreams and plans for the future. #AskHerMORE.

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