In this week’s Wednesday 5, Paige Morrow Kimball takes on ageism in The Heat; women directors dominate HBO’s documentary fall lineup; photographer Stephanie Simon documents the secret world of child brides; raped at 55, Beverly Donofrio unpacks why women don’t fight back; and Shonda Rhimes is back again with a film about female war correspondents.


Turning Up the Heat on Ageism in Hollywood

the-heat-sandra-bullock-melissa-mccarthySandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy star in the summer buddy-cop action film The Heat

Our Paige Morrow Kimball, who frequently writes for us on the landscape for women in Hollywood, has weighed in on the buddy-cop film The Heat,  starring two female leads, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The film isdefinitely gender blind and doesn’t sway from the buddy cop formula because there are women in the leads, ” opines Kimball. “However, I was disheartened to see that the film perpetuates a double standard for men and women about age and attractiveness.” Kimball takes to task one particular scene in which Bullock’s character attempts to seduce a male counterpart and is met with the response “You’re the first woman over 40 who has given me a boner.” The hypersexualized and ageist scene is troubling for obvious reasons. But Morrow looks at the bigger picture of cop action movies in which mostly men older than 40 have dominated the leads in those films and are consistently framed as sex symbols.  “We still have a long way to go to accept women over 40 as able to pull off the leads in action and cop films, with everything that job entails,” says Kimball. “When movies portray women in the middle/prime of their lives as rugged, fierce, deep, in charge, heroic and sexy BECAUSE they are that way, not just in spite of their age, that’s when we’ll know we’ve truly evolved.”



Women-Directed Documentaries on HBO’s Fall Lineup

Speaking of women in Hollywood, we were happy to see this report—and we know Kimball will be, too—that women directors will dominate HBO’s Fall 2013 documentary lineup. Eight films will feature women directors, some of them first-timers, and producers, who tackle serious and relevant issues of the day, including a school shooting, breast cancer, organ trafficking, suicide among war veterans; and untold stories of female comedians. Read more about these films and the women behind them at Indiewire.


Too Young to Wed

Video: Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has turned her lens on the global campaign to end child marriage for girls. The photography exhibition, “Too Young to Wed,” is championed by the United Nations Population Fund, whose work is committed to shifting this paradigm: “Child marriage affects 1 in 3 girls in the developing world and predominantly impacts the poorest, least educated girls, the majority of whom live in rural areas. Girls who get married early, get pregnant early, putting their lives—and the lives of their children—at great risk.” Sinclair has traveled throughout Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, and Yemen, documenting this issue of child marriage over the last ten years. Click here to see the stunning images featured in the exhibition, which will be traveling throughout the United States and the world. See the calendar here.



Raped at 55

“I didn’t scream or fight, either, when I was raped in my own bed at the age of 55. The reasons were logical and illogical, historic, complex, and also smart. . . Even if the man who raped me had not held a knife and I’d heard nothing of his other attacks, I’m 99.9 percent sure I wouldn’t have fought. . .”

This is how starts her story in Slate as she tells about being 55 years old and raped. Whether a woman is 25 or 55, the trauma of violence remains often irreparable. What Donofrio confronts is the dominant question many women who have been raped are asked: Did you fight back? Or, why didn’t you fight back? In her case, even the judge asked her this question at trial. Donofrio is doing something quite brave as she shares her ordeal—she unpacks the “silence” many women employ as a defense mechanism, as a way to stay alive, as a way to survive when they are held captive in the moments of violence. “Rape victims do not exactly remain silent during  the rape,” she says. “They’re screaming inaudibly through the whole thing.” Then there is a life one must go on living post-rape. And some women are silent again,  says Donofrio,  for “shame of being seen as at best unlucky and at worst damaged, dread of the stigma that will attach itself, and knowledge of the human tendency to blame the victim to avoid empathizing with her, which would require imagining another’s horror and humiliation as our own.”

Read more of the Beverly Donofrio’s courageous and candid story at Slate.



Shonda Rhimes Writes Film About Female War Correspondents

Lara Logan, CBS News

Lara Logan, CBS News

We know many of you can’t wait for Shonda Rhimes’s Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy to resume in the fall. Now we have even more reasons to love Rhimes’s growing portfolio of female-centered productions. She is currently working on a film about female war correspondents, “a subject that Rhimes has been interested in writing about since around the time of the Iraq War,” reports Meher Ahmad at Jezebel. It’s a timely (and long-time-coming) project. In February, The Atlantic reported the story, “It’s More Dangerous Than Ever to Be a Female War Reporter,” as news of CBS’s Lara Logan’s sexual assault in Egypt took over the headlines.



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