On November 2nd, Mila Kunis penned an open letter for A Plus on sexism in Hollywood, and some of her personal experiences with unnamed producers. It’s no secret that there are double standards in the workforce, especially in the entertainment industry. Many industries are primarily “Boys’ Clubs” where women are paid less, and subject to other unequal treatment. Mila event mentioned a statistic from the American Association of University Women’s study (which is already linked in my Stay Educated section!), that women will not bridge the pay gap with men until 2152- that’s 136 years from now!
I admire Mila’s candidness and willingness to speak out. In the past few years as she has matured and transitioned into motherhood, she has been a constant voice on feminism, and works more behind the camera than in front of it these days. In 2014, Mila launched her own production company- Orchard Farm Productions where she produces scripted television series that aim to tell stories from unique perspectives and voices.
I have mentioned this similar subject in another post when Jennifer Lawrence released her letter on Lenny about the entertainment industry wage gap. While Jennifer focused mainly on pay, Mila hits more on the sexist attitudes of collaborators and how women are belittled and often made to compromise for the sake of their careers. She mentioned that earlier in her career, she remained complicit, and thought that in order to succeed, she would have to stick to the status quo. Luckily for Mila, she is at a place in her career where standing her ground won’t significantly change the outcome of her career. But what about the up-and-comers? That is my question.
Another thing Mila talked about was microaggressions that women can sometimes face. She explains that in a “lighthearted” email a producer referred to her as Ashton Kutcher’s “baby mama” and soon-to-be wife. Yes, the little email may have seemed harmless but it uncovers a bigger issue. The producer reduced her professional credibility. Subtle sexism is so ingrained in our society, that most people- both men and women don’t realize they’re participating in it.
Many actresses like Mila are criticized due the fact that they did not speak up years ago, and have just come out now. In Mila and other actresses defense, many actresses were young and learning the industry. Especially in Mila’s case, she was in her early teens when her career started to take off. It wasn’t until later that these actresses learned that what they were experiencing was not OK. And also, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t right? People complain that these entertainers won’t name names, but when they do, they put their careers and well-being at risk, and many question the validity of their claims (See Amber Heard and Ke$ha for instance).
It’s what we are conditioned to believe — that if we speak up, our livelihoods will be threatened; that standing our ground will lead to our demise. We don’t want to be kicked out of the sandbox for being a “bitch.” So we compromise our integrity for the sake of maintaining the status quo and hope that change is coming.
Luckily for me, in the places I have been employed, my bosses were always strong women. But I know as I transition into the more corporate world, things might shift a bit. The quote listed above is similar to what Jennifer Lawrence spoke of. I call it Katherine Heigl Syndrome. In many industries, it can be dangerous to be a woman who speaks her mind. You hear about all these industry women who are labeled as difficult, but are they really? Or are the unwilling to compromise?
ADRIANA, THE CINEMA SOLOIST