#OscarsSoMale: Do we honestly need a separate award for Best Female Director? 3 years ago

#OscarsSoMale: Do we honestly need a separate award for Best Female Director?

The Oscar nominations were announced this week.

And in a rather unsurprisingly turn of events, there weren't all that many women nominated in the Best Director category.


In fact - as is generally how these things go - none were.

The nominations led to an influx of thinkpieces and complaints from those who rightly purported that the Oscars were, indeed, #SoMale. 

However, it also led to the reintroduction of the suggestion that would seemingly solve the problem of the lack of women being nominated for technical awards: just add another category specifically for women.

The introduction of a Best Female Director category would absolutely ensure that women actually get nominated for their work, but it would also give the Academy a justification for ignoring women's contributions to the industry in the past.


"Only five women were ever nominated for Best Director? Oh, that's just because there was never a category for them."

To separate awards via gender is to presume that the male and female experience is essentially different.

By this logic, a man would struggle to direct a film that stars a predominantly female cast. Similarly, a woman could never make a movie about the perils of World War 1 because her gender was all but absent from the trenches.

Except she could, and she has, and she probably brought a new and necessary perspective while she was at it.


Categories like Best Actress and Best Actor have existed since the Oscars' very beginnings.

The first ever Academy Awards took place in 1929 and saw Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings take home the respective awards for two or three performances each - because that's just the way they did things back then.

To add an additional Best Female Director award would potentially undermine the undeniable contribution female directors have paid the industry since the birth of cinema, instead giving them a second rate consolidation prize that would automatically not hold as much weight as its male counterpart.


And yet, at the same time, to remove the gendered categories that the Academy still boasts now would risk eliminating many more women from ever being nominated at all.

After all, there's every chance that five men could receive the nod for Best Actor - but five women? Not in this lifetime.

And while the Oscars is not the be-all and end-all of cinema, it is always - without fail - the most talked about awards ceremony of the year. It does hold weight, even if we'd rather it didn't.

The awards are also unlikely to change in any real way in the next few years.

We can remain hopeful that more women (and more specifically, more women of colour) are recognised for their work and their talents, but we are not guaranteed in any way that that will happen.


Still though, it'd be a nice surprise if it did.