Kathryn Bigelow and Post-Gender America

As you may have heard repeated several hundred times last night, Kathryn Bigelow’s “Best Director” Academy Award victory made her the first woman to ever win in that category.

To put Bigelow’s accomplishment in perspective only three other women had even been nominated for Best Director priorly — Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation,” Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” and Jane Campion for “The Piano.” But as Sharon Waxman points out, Bigelow didn’t seem especially thrilled with breaking any gender barriers.

Onstage, she made no reference to the fact that she had broken the glass ceiling. Instead, she called it “the moment of a lifetime,” and saluted “the men and women all over the world who wear the uniform.”

And backstage, she backed away from singling out that aspect of her talent: “I’m ever grateful if I can inspire an intrepid, tenacious male or female director,” she said.

Is Bigelow’s gracious, barrier-breaking victory on the world stage a game changer for the way we view gender in our society? Is sexism dead? If a woman can win Best Director after years of battling sexism and the structural impediments of the glass ceiling, we must clearly have attained a post-gender society, right?

No, that sounds a little silly doesn’t it.