YAY Patricia Arquette !!! (now please check your privilege)

“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Just assume that anyone who thinks that, during her Oscars acceptance speech, Patricia Arquette had no right or reasonable pretext for shouting a clarion call for equal pay is an agent of the patriarchy. There’s really no other explanation. She is right to be angry and to be loud — whenever and wherever she wishes. (And so do we all, frankly!!)

Although the Oscars telecast isn’t an Occupy or NOW rally, it’s the perfect platform to address political problems that affect not only the daily lives of a billion global viewers but which are also painfully relevant to everyone involved with Hollywood and show business, even at its highest echelons. (Even in the very front row of the auditorium, judging from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez’s jubilant & vocal reactions to her boldness.)

Just recently, the Sony email hack revealed piles of fresh proof that “equal pay for equal work” does NOT apply, not even when the women are MORE qualified, more famous, more celebrated. In fact, only as far back as January, Oscar winner Charlize Theron successfully battled a *10 MILLION DOLLAR* pay disparity with her co-star, Chris Hemsworth. She’s won numerous industry awards and nominations across the whole prestige spectrum, whereas he’s a very nice dude and a perfectly competent movie star but who is primarily known for being extremely muscular. 10 million dollars is crazy money, but can *anyone* reasonably argue that he is worth that much MORE than she is?? No. Which is why she got her raise pretty easily. But it’s the culture of secrecy around pay that allowed this to happen, and it’s the entrenched cultural assumption that anything women do is worth less than when men do it.

Unfortunately, she either misstepped or revealed some privilege blindness when expounding backstage afterward.

It’s time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households. It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t. One of those superior court justices said two years ago in a law speech at a university that we don’t have equal rights for women in America and we don’t because when they wrote Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women. So the truth is even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America right under the surface there are huge issues at play that really do affect women. It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for – to fight for us now!

That last sentence is key and unfortunately, it goes too far. I don’t think it totally devalues her overall message, but I hope she is receptive to the corrections and counterpoints that the commentariat is delivering to her right about now. (I only added two but obviously there are MANY more.) I hope that she is not shouted down by other groups who are fighting good fights — it’s really significant, important and valuable that she spoke out in that moment on that platform, and I support her wholeheartedly for it. (And sincerely think she will grow in her sensitivity and advocacy in the future.)

More takes on the speech, plus their roundups of social media reactions (again there are hundreds, but I tried to get some legit ones):

New York Times

Daily Beast

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About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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3 Responses to YAY Patricia Arquette !!! (now please check your privilege)

  1. I will admit her last sentence turned me off. I missed the part where feminists fought “so hard” for Asian, Korean, and MY PERSONAL minority rights. When she basically said “we already fought for you all” I rolled my eyes.

    • amywinns says:

      It’s a real clanger, I agree. And it’s really unfortunate. If she had said something like “together” or acknowledged that all these fights are concurrent and ongoing, then that would have been cool. Intersectionality is too complicated for that moment and clearly she doesn’t understand it (yet) anyway. I hold out hope though that she and other white middle-aged feminists (of which I’m one, so if I can get it so can she/they) learn to routinely check that blindspot and be better.

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