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Too Bad About That Penis You Have
It's staffing season for TV writers, and a friend of mine was up for a job on what promises to be one of the best comedies on television. The hiring was down to him and one other guy, and then his agent called him and said they'd picked him. All they had to do was wait for clearance on hiring him from the network. He wasn't worried, though, since the network had to "clear" him as hireable so the showrunner could even consider him.

Well, surprise, surprise, the network said they had to hire a woman. They gave the producers two women to choose from -- neither of which, the producers told my friend, were anywhere near as good as the two guys they'd initially narrowed down their selection to.

Amazing, huh? If a network said that to a woman, "Sorry, but we have to hire a man," she would have been in court 20 minutes ago. My friend won't take that option -- "If I do that, I'll never work in this town again."

I consoled him, "If you're good enough to get almost hired by this show -- but for reverse discrimination -- you're going to do okay." Unfortunately, knowing you were the best one for he job is no way to pay the rent.

Women won't have "equality" until the solution to past discrimination against women isn't current discrimination against men. Hire the best woman for the job -- even if she has big hairy balls.

Posted by aalkon at July 13, 2007 1:18 PM


Wow, shitty shitty.

If I were hired over a more qualified candidate because the company had to fulfill a gender quota I would be embarrassed to say the least. I'd also constantly question my performance and stress out over working triply hard to prevent hiring-regret from hitting the employer.

As badly as it sucks for your friend, I feel badly for the person who got hired instead who sucks. Everyone will know she sucks and she doesn't belong. The show will flop and she'll lose her job and it will be because she was set up to fail in the first place.

This isn't equality at all.

Posted by: Gretchen at July 13, 2007 7:12 AM

See, Amy, both of your blog entries today show what an anti-man feminazi you are. ;-)

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 13, 2007 7:26 AM

This is because gender feminism was never about equality. It's about what Rush called "get-even-with-em-ism".

It's not about remediation, it's about revenge.

The underlying message from the (no doubt) women who run things at the network is "See how it feels to be denied a job because of your gender? Go home and think about how evil you men are."

These are the same marginal thinkers who believe that if we're nice to the muslims they'll leave us alone.

I wonder how they'll look in burqahs.

Posted by: brian at July 13, 2007 7:45 AM

Slightly surprising that the network allowed the reason for the decision to see daylight as they did. Typically, they'd obfuscate with "creative considerations" or some such fishpaste.

The fact that they can brazenly declare their gender discrimination suggests that they don't care as much for a lofty idea like equality as much as they care about keeping in with the PC goons.

Posted by: poo-free martin at July 13, 2007 7:50 AM

I've been saying it for years: "political correctness" is neither politcal, nor correct. It's a load of crap, and the sheeple have bought into it wholesale. Crazy.

Posted by: Flynne at July 13, 2007 8:03 AM

That term "reverse discrimination" triggers my inner grammar dork.

To discriminate used to mean simply to make a distinction, to discern one thing from another. A person who was discriminating was particular. So for a person to complain about a discriminating supervisor might be kind of funny. "You mean she prefers employees with a functional understanding of English?"
But terms like racial discrimination and illegal discrimination gave a generation of people the idea that discrimination itself must be bad because of the company it kept. Such is the evolution of language, alas.
Reverse discrimination is one of those terms that doesn't mean anything but sounds kind of like it does and besides, people know what you mean when you say it. But the term winks at the notion that getting even is a step on the road to justice. 'taint.

Posted by: 99.9% poo-free martin at July 13, 2007 8:10 AM

If your writer friend's account is true, he has a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII. His lawsuit would be a plaintiff's lawyer's dream because the prospective employer admitted that his qualifications were superior to that of the hired job applicant and the only reason he wasn't hired was because he was a "he."

By any other name, that violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Having a claim, and electing to sue, however, are separate matters.

Posted by: Jonathan Sprague at July 13, 2007 8:38 AM

Slightly surprising that the network allowed the reason for the decision to see daylight as they did.

They didn't mean it to. They told the producers, who told my friend the real reason they couldn't hire him.

And I told him he has a case, and he knows. But, see above - the "you'll never work in this town again" bit. He's very talented, and the fact that he was the real choice to work on this show is proof of that. He doesn't want to be known as the guy who sued. His choice.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 13, 2007 9:07 AM

Is anyone anticipating a jedwards comment?

Posted by: Joe at July 13, 2007 9:48 AM

Personal note to Jerry: That's my blog item for tomorrow - I saw that...don't want to preempt it!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 13, 2007 10:00 AM

I'm not convinced by the chain of evidence here. Although I'm sure the guy is just repeating what he's been told, I'm not sure how credible the producers are. They could be slanting the story to cover their bottoms.

They might also have honestly misinterpreted the situation. It might have been simply that both women were on contract and the studio wanted one of them on staff in order to get some work out of her, considering she's getting paid anyway.

In any event, I'm not especially upset on your friend's behalf. Becoming a successful TV writer is mostly about getting that one break that puts you on staff. After that, if you have the chops to pull your weight and learn, you'll be on your way.

Unfortunately, most of the writers getting those breaks are guys. Maybe because they're old buddies with the showrunner (seen it happen) or they share the showrunner's love of World of Warcraft (seen it happen.) Maybe it's because the showrunner is uncomfortable around women (seen it happen.)

So, this one time, a slot went to a woman who had somehow impressed the studio. If she has the chops, she'll earn her spot. If she doesn't, she'll never work again. In the meantime, given that only 39% of TV staff jobs are held by women, I don't think we're living in some kind of feminazi police state.

Posted by: Harriet at July 13, 2007 12:18 PM

Sorry, but having worked in the industry, I don't believe your friend for a microsecond.

They don't hire women as comedy writers. Ninety-nine out of a hundred comedy writers these days are men, and the other one is a MTF transsexual. And it has nothing to do with how good they are, either: women are seen as horrible evil lumpenslime if they try to be funny. Now they can act as comediennes, of course: every show needs a size 0 woman with DDD breasts to play the part of the wife of the schlub after whom the show is named. But they had better not try to actually think up the jokes themselves.

So no, I don't believe this. Not for a second.

Posted by: Blurgle at July 13, 2007 12:56 PM

I agree that there is little here to get a trial attorney excited. But I do think there is an appearance of impropriety that the studio would have deeply regreted had the genders been reversed. Amy's friend relates that the producers said they were told they must hire a woman, not merely select from a short list of others who just happened to BE women, substantial difference.

"Not especially upset" sounds like an ironic way of saying you see justice in the situation, that it's okay to treat someone unfairly in order to balance things out. That may or may not be your POV but I'm sure you'd hate to be miscontrued either way.

I heartily agree about jobs requiring special talents. Getting the chance to show your stuff can be capricious but the mediocre performer who gets a shot at the big time won't be crowding out the truly gifted for very long. Whether it is "unfortunate" that breaks aren't falling with perfect gendered uniformity remains unproved. Your short list of "maybe's" doesn't leave room for: maybe any random group that just 'happens' to be proportionally representative is wildly unlikely. Not every instance of less than perfect representation should trip an alarm and bring the field levelers running.
"[S]ome kind of feminazi police state" is another irony that could easily be called a straw man. We don't have to have pink tanks lining the streets to observe that talents and efforts are being wasted through misguided attempts to make every realm of life comply to schoolyard standards of "fairness."

(That image of pink tanks lining the streets is funny, I should be a comedy writer)

Posted by: 99.9% poo-free martin at July 13, 2007 1:43 PM

Blurgie, he's not one to lie, number one, and it was down to two guys, and he was told it was him, with the caveat that it had to get final approval from the studio. And the specificity of the story -- how the producers were given two women suggested by the studio to choose from -- adds to my feeling that somebody I have not known to lie is telling the truth in this case. Either there will or won't be a woman on the staff of this show in the fall. If you remember, ask me when the new shows are out, and I'll look at the credits.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 13, 2007 2:59 PM

Amy, I believe that your friend believes that what he was told was the truth. Though having worked for a network during staffing and all other seasons I have never heard of any kind of equal opportunity employment quota on a show. Sounds like some kind of bull your friend’s agent told him.

Posted by: Anon at July 13, 2007 4:07 PM

Nope, you naysayers are wrong. I talked to a friend who's a showrunner and he said it definitely does happen, and it recently happened to a white male friend of his. The network mandate was hiring a woman or a gay man. (How they prove you're gay, I'm not sure -- do they come over and check your drawers for Out magazine and buttplugs?)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 14, 2007 6:27 AM

DH knows a lot of experienced writers with substantial credits who can no longer get hired, especially for TV, because they're too old. "Looking for fresh talent" is the line they're most often given for not being hired.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 14, 2007 9:44 AM

Your friend needs to see an attorney, and should count himself lucky that people are saying aloud what is too often left unsaid. It's hard to prove your claim when no one will talk.

Posted by: Nasty, Brutish and Short at July 14, 2007 9:04 PM

See above - he's young and talented and doesn't want what's known about him to be that he sued the network. He knows he can sue, he just won't, just as the other guy who got screwed over (that my showrunner friend told me about) won't. He'll get another job, and somebody else will get screwed in the name of "equality." Or whatever they think they're going for. P.S. Those groups who say "Where are the such-and-such faces?" in TV writing and lots of other careers are partly to blame.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 15, 2007 7:55 AM

As others have said... it's illegal to make employment decissions based on race or sex. No matter what race or sex. Unfortunately the whole, "my friend told me somebody said xyz was hired/not hired because they were" plays so well, people love to repeat it and get riteously indignant about it. Think about it for a second... why would somebody not hire the most qualified candidate? Why would a person basically shoot themselves in the foot? I'm not saying it doesn't happen.... its just that the meme is bigger than the reality. More common, but still rare, is hiring someone because you want to get laid.

Posted by: Joe at July 16, 2007 9:19 AM

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