Ready for a sudden rage spike? Here we go. Late last week, a Los Angeles-based casting agency put up a Facebook post calling on actresses for an upcoming period Western film, linked to Quentin Tarantino. Potential applicants were told they needed to fit the following criteria, namely: be white, be thin, be "natural," be non-union. They were instructed to send their head shots and dress sizes via email, using a specific one-word subject line: "whore."
Did you feel your blood pressure go up? Sit down. Practice some square breathing. Feel better? Good. Now that we've all stabilized, here's the problem with telling women to send an email with their photograph and dress size and call themselves "whores" in the process: asking women to send all of this info and to then describe this submission with the word whore. Seems pretty simple, but apparently no one in the undisclosed casting office thought to be careful with this one. But — and here's some great news! — it actually is possible to cast prostitutes in a movie without employing super degrading language. Sex workers would have been just fine, as would have been brothel staff. They also could have gone with saloon girls or even just plain prostitutes, a.k.a. words that don't have implicit insult and shame baked into the definition. This has been a P.S.A. about sexism, Hollywood, and ways to describe women without making them call themselves slut synonyms.
Editor's Note: Refinery29 will serve as an executive producer on this short film, titled The Good Time Girls, along with Quentin Tarantino and others. The above article is not taking aim at the subject matter of the project, nor the casting decisions; rather, the derogatory language used by the casting agency to recruit actresses for roles.