Even Hollywood Stars Are Punished for Demanding Equal Pay

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Patricia Arquette
Patricia ArquettePhoto: Jason Kempin

In Hollywood, 2015 was full of talk about the roles open to women, the need for more women directors, and everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Gwyneth Paltrow to Bradley Cooper declaring their frustrations with the wage gap. Just a year ago, Arquette kicked off that conversation with her acceptance speech for the Oscar for Best Actress, demanding equal rights and equal wages for women.

Her Oscar speech was immediately called out, by Amanda Marcotte at Slate among others, for focusing on the kind of privileged white feminist perspective that can alienate women who identify with minority groups beyond just being female. Arquette later expanded on those comments and made an effort to be more inclusive of women of color and LGBTQ women.

She spoke further about the effects of that speech last night at a “Dinner for Equality” in L.A., and among the fallout from her speech was losing two jobs. “I’m okay with that,” she told Variety about the lost opportunities. “But it’s not just about acting, and it’s not about me as an actor. I don’t believe this is fair for anybody. I want to live in the America I believe in, that really is fair, that really has possibilities, and really does treat people of all races and all sexes equally.”

Arquette expanded on her desire to see wage equality, explaining, “We have 33 million women and kids who wouldn’t be in poverty, who have full-time working moms; if they were just paid their full dollar, they wouldn’t be in poverty.”

Aforementioned wage gap warrior Jennifer Lawrence, who wrote about pay gaps for Lenny Letter, also spoke at the dinner, and revealed that she encountered some backward thinking following her essay. “When I wrote that essay I got a lot of support but I also have Republican family in Kentucky who told me my career was effectively over,” Lawrence shared. She also stressed the importance of not thinking America was “post-feminism.” “I don’t know who came up with that term,” she said. “But it’s the most damaging term that we have, because it’s just not true.”