Male Producer Claims Women “Virtually Control” Cable TV and Emasculate Their Husbands

What Women Really Think
March 10 2014 1:03 PM

Male Producer Claims Women “Virtually Control” Cable TV and Emasculate Their Husbands

474261507-actress-tv-personality-oprah-winfrey-attends-the-45th
Cable TV boss Oprah Winfrey, who has no husband to lord over.

Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards

Film and television producer Gavin Polone holds women in Hollywood in very high regard. In January, he argued in the Hollywood Reporter that women are now so powerful in the entertainment industry that they are exclusively responsible for perpetuating unrealistic physical expectations for actresses. And in New York magazine this week, he introduced readers to “the Women Who Run Hollywood (and the Slacker Husbands They're Over),” claiming that women are finding so much success in Hollywood—they “virtually control cable TV, for example”—that their fat paychecks are eroding their relationships and emasculating their husbands. As Polone puts it: “Behind every super-successful woman in the entertainment business is a man she resents too much to fuck.”

Despite Polone’s protestations to the contrary, Hollywood is not a female-dominated industry. And whether or not women “virtually control cable TV” depends on your definition of the word virtually. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women made up just 26 percent of key behind-the-scenes roles in shows that aired on broadcast and cable networks or that were streamed on Netflix in the 2012-2013 season. That year, only 23 percent of creators, 24 percent of executive producers, 38 percent of producers, 30 percent of writers, and 11 percent of directors were female. (These numbers are no better for cable and Internet streaming than they are for broadcast networks.) And while women have made tremendous strides at the executive level in cable television—notable cable lady bosses include Jill Campbell, COO of Cox Communications; Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group; Oprah Winfrey, CEO of OWN; and Abbe Raven, president and CEO of A&E—they do not outnumber men. Turner Broadcasting System’s executives, who make decisions for channels like CNN, Cartoon Network, HLN, Adult Swim, TBS, and TNT (which, thanks to its NBA contract, is the most expensive cable channel after ESPN), are overwhelmingly male. So are HBO’s executives. AMC currently has zero female execs.

Advertisement

Why would Polone argue that women “virtually control” cable TV when they haven't yet reached parity in the industry, much less cemented their dominance? Maybe it's just a misguided bid to spin an industrywide trend story out of three anonymous interviews. Or maybe “slacker husbands” aren't the only ones who feel a little threatened by powerful women. If you take a look at an industry that's still ruled largely by men and all you see is female “control,” you're probably not super comfortable with the idea of true gender parity.

Amanda Hess is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.