Why Don’t You…? Twenty Extravagant Ideas for International Women’s Day and Beyond

Frivolous, fun or deadly serious, here are some screen-focused suggestions to mark the day, the week, the year.

Diana Vreeland was the editor of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar for 25 years. She passed away in 1989, but she’s still remembered for her regular ‘Why don’t you’ columns, full of extravagant and outrageous ideas for the ‘modern woman’. (‘Why don’t you… rinse your blond child’s hair in dead champagne to keep it gold, as they do in France?’ or ‘tie black tulle bows on your wrists?’)

Far from an ideal feminist, Vreeland was nevertheless a powerful woman who did do things her own way. We’re taking inspiration from her format for our quick list of suggestions to help mark International Women’s Day on this Sunday, 8 March.

Whether you’re a woman or not, here are 20 screen-related ideas to consider.

Why don’t you…

  1. Gender swap your characters if you’re writing a script?
  2. Become a mentor or apply to be mentored? MentorHer 2020 is open for submissions through WIFT Australia until 9 March, but you could do this more casually off your own bat.
  3. Join your union, guild or Women in Film and TV chapter? Collective political action is the key to positive change for humankind.
  4. Employ a woman in an unexpected below-the-line role, just because she’s good at it?
  5. Don’t ask a woman how old she is, or if she has children, or a husband? She’ll tell you if it’s relevant. And remember, an ’emerging’ creative might have grey hair and wrinkles.
  6. Celebrate female cinematographers? Here are 15 of them, accredited by the Australian Cinematographers’ Society (ACS) with names including Mandy Walker, Bonnie Elliott, Zoe White, Ari Wegner, Katie Milwright and Nicola Daley. 
  7. Go to the cinema and watch a film written, directed or produced by a woman? Australian movies that fit the bill right now include Undertow, In My Blood it Runs and Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears.
  8. Listen when a woman speaks? Amplify her ideas and credit her when others talk over her. 
  9. Watch some TV created by women? Stateless on the ABC is one option. The Commons on Stan is another. We’re also loving Work in Progress (Stan) from US comedian Abby McEnany. It’s rude, brave, hilarious and heartbreaking.
  10. Call your mother and really talk to her. She might have good ideas and stories to tell.
  11. Check your biases? Shocking new analysis reveals a global backlash against gender equality, with nine out of 10 people found to be biased against women.
  12. Follow a bunch of women filmmakers on Twitter? How about Gillian Armstrong, Corrie ChenUnjoo Moon or Briony Kidd? Or you could follow Women and Hollywood, who educate, advocate, and agitate for greater gender diversity in Hollywood and the global film industry.
  13. Get to know 20 creative women in the Australian screen industry? These are names and faces to watch.
  14. Read or listen to a female film critic? Male film critics still outnumber women 2 to 1. Here are some names: Stephanie Zacharek, Manohla Dargis, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Cerise Howard, Emma Westwood, or Screenhub’s own Mel Campbell or Sarah Ward.
  15. Stop rolling your eyes or acting confused when someone talks of ‘intersectionality’? Middle class white women do have it easier, and putting more of them in power won’t fix the world.
  16. Believe a woman. She’s probably telling the truth, whether that’s about how long a job should take, how much it will cost, or whether she’s safe and supported.
  17. Crowd fund or make a philanthropic donation to a female documentary filmmaker? Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF) allows you to filter for projects aligning with your interests and values.
  18. Pay a woman what she’s worth instead of the lowest amount you can get away with.
  19. Teach screen literacy to your daughters and nieces, and also your sons and nephews. Being able to analyse and critique moving mages and stories is essential to empowerment.  
  20. Look forward to a day when we don’t need a special day to celebrate more than half the world’s population?

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram