MANILA, Philippines – “The only thing that separates women of color from others is opportunity,” said Viola Davis in her iconic 2015 Emmy speech. “You can’t win an Emmy for roles that simply aren’t not here.”
Six years later, his speech still rings true. Even in fields other than cinema, there are fewer opportunities for women than for men.
Eight of the world’s largest news agencies have fewer main photo signatures by women, the nonprofit Women Photograph said in its 2021 Industry Report. Only 31.6% of the New York Times top photo signatures are women. At The Guardian, it’s 11.5%
The media in the Philippines is no different, and women and the LGBTQIA + community are fighting for opportunities that have been denied to them because they are not cisgender, straight men.
Misogyny is a kind of sexism that manifests itself in forms of hatred, physical, emotional abuse and sexual harassment towards women.
Female photographers, like many women in other fields, face gender biases, stereotypes, sexual harassment and mistrust simply because they are women and even those who have been in the industry for many years. many years are not immune.
Misogyny and masculine norms
Sandra Dans, an art educator and professional photographer, explained that the “greats of photography” hailed from the West in the 1930s. Back then, heterosexual white men all had access to darkrooms and the bathroom. equipment and could set the standards and aesthetics of photography.
In contrast, women were not even allowed to do paid work at that time.
She pointed out that these early standards became the benchmark for photography in the Philippines due to the influence America had on our education.
Dans is the founder of Off Kilter, a non-traditional wedding photography studio that uses the slogans “Breaking the Patriarchy with Your Crush” and “Weddings For Weirdos”.
This has meant fewer opportunities for her, especially in an industry that thrives on patriarchal tropes.
She clarified that the primacy of these tropes and narratives is not necessarily intentional – nakasanayan lang ”(it’s just something we’re used to).
They are part of a culture so ingrained in our consciousness, but even small acts of dismantling patriarchy help.
Dans said she also fights these standards in academia by performing acts of rebellion, “just existing” and reminding her students that they don’t have to seek the standards set in the 1930s.
Sometimes all they have to do is carve out space for their own work.
Fewer opportunities, unhealthy environment
“Bakit hindi pwedeng sabay kami ‘di ba?” (Why can’t we be considered equal?) “
Nana Buxani, a documentary photographer born and raised in Mindanao, is no stranger to always having to prove her worth as editors tend to send men to cover areas of conflict.
“Kailangan I prove pa. Kesa sa mga lalaki, ‘O sa iyo ito’, ibibigay na sa iyo on a silver platter. Sa babae, you have to say kaya mo rin ito, ”she said.
(You have to prove yourself. For men, they are just given a blanket, they get it on a silver platter. If you are female you have to say you can do that too)
“We have to learn to fight for this,” she said.
In the clarified people will not bluntly say that “we will not hire you because you have a vagina”. Misogyny can be felt through what multimedia journalist Hannah Reyes Morales called “nudges,” she said.
“[I]It’s more about degrading sex jokes, inappropriate questions, the conflicting feeling between being grateful for the care men show [while also keeping] you move away from the ‘hard stuff’ you want to photograph so you don’t mess up your makeup. “
In said that these situations make it difficult for women to thrive in the industry and can deter women from opportunities.
Unequal pay, different lenses
Rosem Morton, nurse, National Geographic and New York Times photojournalist based in Maryland, United States, began working for gender parity by asking her male peers if they are paid the same.
“I started asking my male counterparts how much they get paid for an equal assignment, and just make sure I get paid the same,” she said.
“It’s really, really hard to stand up for myself. I kind of think it’s not just for me, it will be for my community as well. Because every time they hire someone who looks like me , they will know that is the price we should be getting. “
She said the community should encourage media, newsrooms and production houses to hire more LGBTQIA + women and photographers to ensure the stories are told by people who understand the nuances beyond dominant narratives.
Morton’s project on the Filipino Nursing Diaspora in the United States, for example, was not considered a nationally significant story. She pushed it through because of the importance of the issue to the Philippines and the country’s contribution to the history of nursing in the United States.
Recently, fashion photographer Colin Dancel created a database of Filipino women and non-binary photographers inspired by Esme Palaganas of the Philippine Fashion Coalition who tries to professionalize creatives by registering with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Directories that contain everyone’s information create a level playing field. “Here are all the photographers, you have no excuse not to hire everyone the same, because our information is here and everything is up to date.” Said Morton.
She says it will also help show there are enough numbers for the government to pass a creations bill. seriously.
Dancel is also conducting a survey of Filipino photographers which will help put in place policies for reporting businesses related to photography and the craft itself.
Diversity discussed but not seen
Diversity, or the variety of ethnicities and genders in the workplace, is an essential attribute in storytelling because it helps paint a larger picture from different perspectives and helps to understand the nuances and cultural contexts important during the interview. blanket.
“I have mixed feelings about this [tokenism]. Is that a pat on the back, to say that we are equal now? Have you given one spot in ten to a person of color? It won’t be enough, I think it will be enough if we stop talking about diversity because we actually see diversity, ”Morton said.
In said tokenism can be problematic and harmful, comparing it to how some movies have an all-white cast with a friend who isn’t. She said that if it allows “brands to think about doing the bare minimum covers their bases [instead of working at] to be really equal. “
However, she also stressed that “it has to start somewhere” and said that realizing the need for diversity can lead to real diversity.
In a previous interview on pride month with Philstar.com, Niño Jose Gonzales of BBDO Guerrero, who teaches marketing and advertising at De La Salle University in Manila, said the symbolism is yet another step towards awareness. Gonzales said, however, that the community must constantly remind brands to go beyond the simple performative alliance as a ploy to market themselves in a specific month.
Gender parity in terms of wages must be achieved, documentary photographer Geela Garcia stressed, adding that if brands are serious about helping, they are working to close the gender pay gap by paying more women.
“If not equally, they have to pay women better instead,” she said.
Referring to a recent controversy involving a camera brand and its brand ambassadors, Garcia said brands should no longer be put on pedestals and the community should stop seeking their validation and visibility.
She said people should instead look at how their photographic work contributes to society.
Self-reflection and alliance
The road to equality cannot be accomplished by women and the LGBTQI + community alone, it needs a sincere alliance and a deeper understanding to overhaul the industry.
“I think men can be more helpful in this conversation by doing a lot of soul searching,” Morton said of experiences of inappropriate treatment in the field. “I think certain words or small actions carry a lot of weight.”
“Include men in more gender-sensitive dialogues,” Buxani said. While women and the LGBTQI + community do not have the responsibility of educating men about misogyny on an ongoing basis, it can be helpful to encourage them in workshops and conversations.
Morton reiterated that part of unlearning misogyny is knowing that “this is not an attack on [the man] as a person it is an attack on what we have grown up to believe. “
She said the community should also “[do] work by educating ourselves and berating improper actions in our own circles about injustices. “
Buxani believes that small strides towards gender equality will ultimately lead to a more equitable industry and society.
“Pagdating ng panahon, maging pantay na ‘yan… lahat naman ng mga bagay na hindi fair, kapag can push back data’ yon doon. Ang ano na lang doon is time…”
(The time will come when we will be considered equal. Anything that is not fair will happen if there is a step back. It is only a matter of time.) – With Luisa Morales