Earlier this week, America’s sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence made a rare social media appearance. She released a strongly worded essay through Lena Dunham’s email newsletter, Lenny Letter calling out the wage gap between men and women in the entertainment industry. Generally known as being quirky and amiable, she kicks her reputation to the curve and gets candid.
Its common knowledge that Hollywood is certainly a place where sexism and overall inequality is rampant. Jennifer calls out the industry’s current bull and doesn’t apologize for it. I love the fact that she is honest in her approach to the issue. From this essay, we gain a little insight into Jennifer’s brain. She confesses that she doesn’t often give her opinion on topics that are “trending” because of its lack of genuineness. She’s also aware that her current situation isn’t entirely relatable to the rest of us working chicks. Most of the comments I read online held no sympathy whatsoever for Jennifer, and at times I concurred. Why should I care what she has to say? She’s in a glamour industry. She’s a pretty white millionaire. A lot of us wish we could bare the cross of her “problems”. But that’s not the point. Jennifer is addressing a much larger issue.
Last year’s disastrous Sony Hack spilled the tea on many of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and executives. Personal emails, employee information, and salaries were aired in the open. In this shit storm, Jennifer discovered she had been paid far less than her male counterparts for her recent film roles. Instead of blaming Sony, she decided to blame herself (She should probably take this situation up with her agent) for not wanting to seem “difficult” or “spoiled” while negotiating for better pay. A lot of the women in entertainment perform equal to or superior than their male costars, so why not pay the same? If the Sony Hack never happened, a lot of women would still be in the dark about their status in the industry. But the wage cap isn’t unique to entertainment, it is something that affects many other industries too- even female dominated occupations such as teaching and nursing. In general, women are paid less for the same amount of work. Here is an amazing and recent study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on the gender pay gap, which also goes into the pay gap between minorities, and gaps by occupation.
Jennifer brings up an amazing point: Are we as women conditioned to be in this mindset? Most men in entertainment (and any industry for that matter) do not worry about being considered spoiled brats when they recognize their worth. Most men are even applauded as Jennifer mentions. Men such as Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner are praised for being “fierce” and “tactical” in their negotiations while she is being jeered at. Being at the low rungs of the career force, even I have struggles with worrying about coming across as greedy and ungrateful when it comes to being compensated for my work. Being more educated, I’ve naturally become more opinionated too. There are times I’m afraid of saying what’s really on my mind in fears of being seen as a risk or a threat. There’s this expectation that you should take what you’re given and be quiet, especially if it can lead to opportunities for you in the future. I’m sure many women in the industry fear being “blackballed” in Hollywood. There’s also the misconception that if you are too opinionated, you’re a bitch. This has lead to me to question the alleged “difficulty” of some of the women in Hollywood. Are they truly difficult, or do they just know their worth and stand up for themselves?
Lastly, some words for Jennifer: Thank you for bringing this issue to attention, and I hope you share your opinion more, its refreshing. Don’t be afraid to piss people off. I really hope you know you have the power to make a positive change.
You can read Jennifer’s essay on her official Facebook page.