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Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Is it sexism when the Academy Awards gives out honors for Best Actor and Best Actress?

Asked by Captain_Fantasy (11426points) March 26th, 2010

Is a division between the sexes necessary for the academy awards anymore?

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23 Answers

cockswain's avatar

Would you just call it Best Thespian? Best Actoress?

syzygy2600's avatar

It’s not sexism because both sexes are represented. But yeah it does seem kind of outdated.

laurenleigh7321's avatar

Well, I dont think its sexist. Actors tend to play more masculine roles. Actresses tend to play more feminine roles. I guess they should just have two awards: Best Masculine Actor. Best Feminine Actor.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

It ignores other possibilities, so it may not be sexist, but it is discriminating.

zophu's avatar

The awarding is just as silly as the division, so it doesn’t really matter.

wonderingwhy's avatar

of course it’s necessary otherwise they’d have one less award to try and draw ratings with; frankly i’m surprised they haven’t tried to divvy it up between young/new and old – or maybe they have and I just didn’t bother to pay attention.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

It does seem a bit odd. Separating men/women in things like sports makes sense, but the ability to act should not make any difference whether you are a man or woman. I think the role of a man in a movie can be viewed differently than a role that a woman can play, so maybe thats why they keep them separated.

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cockswain's avatar

Now that I think about it more, it seems necessary to have the separate awards. Expanding on what @RandomMrAdam said, there are unquestionably feminine and masculine characters in movies. Could a man play a female role better than the best woman, or vice versa? It seems unlikely to me.

@Barcybarce It takes less of a life to chime in on something you don’t care about.

zophu's avatar


If you’re going to insult people make it more entertaining

Dog's avatar

I never really thought about it till now but really it is a good question.

After all- they do not have a “Best male director” and “Best female director”
Why the recognition of sexes only for actors? If they are going to do it why not in all areas?

dalepetrie's avatar

Though I get your meaning, consider that in the real world, most of the choice acting roles BY FAR are written for men. Actresses (or female Actors if you prefer) in Hollywood are always complaining about not being able to find really good roles. And basically, if the role isn’t that great, or the movie itself isn’t that great, you’re not going to get nominated. I mean, let’s say they made Sisterhood of the Travelling pants with Merryl Streep, Glenn Close, Judi Densch and Cate Blanchette, and all 4 of them turned in the best acting job of their careers, we wouldn’t be seeing them in the best Actress category.

So, because of this, it would really be an unfair advantage for men in the “best Actor” category if men and women were running against one another, because most of choice roles in the best movies were written for and played by men. I’d venture a guess that you’d see men nominated 3 times as often as women and probably would win 4 or 5 times as often. Then THAT would be considered sexist.

It’s simply a function of who runs the Academy and the society they grew up in. For example, I had in my first year of College, a Freshman Comp teacher who was probably in his early 60s at the time, and I wrote a paper about something with current relevant culturual impact…this guy was very much into being proper about your grammar, so I was very aware of how I put things down on paper for him to read. So, my paper was about the success of a particular movie, and I referred to the female lead as an “actor”, because this was the late 80s/early 90s and at the time, there was a push to call all actors, male and female “actors” instead of using “actor” and “actress”. That was about the only thing he corrected on my paper, he crossed out actor and wrote “actress”. I explained to him the modern trend in our language and he just wasn’t aware of that. It wasn’t a sexist thing, just his whole life, that’s how we’ve referred to people who act, using gender specific words. I’m assuming that this is just how most of the people who run the Academy are used to it being this way, with best categories for each linguistic term…it’s not an inherently sexist thing, and overall it actually results in women getting more awards, so I don’t think it’s probably ever even occurred to the powers that be to consider changing the way things are done. If it ain’t broke as they say, don’t fix it.

zophu's avatar

Ahh! is that what it feels like when I write long answers? fuck, I’m going to tighten things up from here on out

not that you don’t make good points in your long-winded answer

MacBean's avatar

GDI, dale, I saw this question and got all excited because I had an answer. Then I found you’d written it, and much better than I would have, complete with a personal story. Lurve!

Rarebear's avatar

They should have best director and best directress.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It’s long and drawn out.That’s what it is…

andrew's avatar

It’s hard enough to compare performances within a gender—comparing them across genders would be nearly impossible.

With the exception of gender-blind casting (which has its own issues), there’s no way to say “What would this performance be like if X played the role?” across genders.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If they overlook a hermaphrodite because… “Well, we couldn’t tell…”, then, yes.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree that there shouldn’t be a distinction but I also agree with @dalepetrie that there would be even more sexism if there was no best female category – like it used to be in the past where women didn’t really matter in film.

filmfann's avatar

@cockswain Linda Hunt won the best supporting actress award for “The Year Of Living Dangerously”, in which she played a man.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, but it begs the question should there be Men and Women’s Chess Championships like there are Men and Women’s Soccer World Cups?

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