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Putting the “-ess” in “Sexist”: Why Do We Have a Best Actress Award?

The fact that no woman was nominated for Best Director (after Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win last year) has caused a stir at this year’s Oscars. I’m not an excessively politically correct individual (just read the blog), but I like to think I’m sensitive to issues like that. Presumably the presumptive female directing nominees would have been either Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone or Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right, and – to be honest – I don’t think either was better than any of the five existing nominees. The continued snubbing of Christopher Nolan bothers me far more.

As I thought about the complaint more and more, part of me wondered when the gender of an individual becomes important for awards like this – my gut feeling is “never.” The best is the best, why should we handicap or install quotas? Except for the fact that we do have gender quotas for certain awards. This train of thought led me wonder why we still have a Best Actress and a Best Supporting Actress category… And, to cut a long story short, I really couldn’t think of a good reason.

Are we kidding ourselves?

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