Two Steps Back for Women

Return of Imus and potential denial of movie leads would be sad trends.

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The Women's Media Center in New York is speaking out against two odious developments that took place last week.

The first is shock jock Don Imus's apparent re-entry into the commercial radio world. Citadel Broadcasting's chief says Imus's firing last spring (for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos") was punishment enough and that he'll reportedly be back on WABC in New York in two months.

Was it punishment enough? Not in my mind. But then again, having faith in the propensity of commercial radio to do the right thing as opposed to doing the ratings thing is like believing in Santa Claus.

The second development is the widely reported remark, allegedly made by Warner Brothers' production chief Jeff Robinov, that the studio would "no longer release movies with women in the lead." The alleged decree comes after both Jodie Foster's The Brave One and Nicole Kidman's The Invasion underperformed at the box office recently. A Warner spokeswoman said Robinov never made the statement, nor is it his policy.

Robinov could just as easily have blamed the movies' producers or, as Hollywood blogger Jeffrey Welles writes,

Would Robinov be saying 'no more movies with women in the lead' if WB had recently made a film as good and successful as The Silence of the Lambs, Aliens, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or Kill Bill? Not likely. If a sweeping statement is required, Robinov should actually be saying that Warner 'is no longer doing female-starring thrillers and actioners produced by Joel Silver.' Silver, after all, produced The Brave One, The Invasion, Gothika, and The Reaping.

So should we blame the female leads or the male producers? How 'bout neither? I like to quote Lady Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament, who said, "It is no use blaming the men --after all, we made them."