“I don’t believe this is fair for anybody. I want to live in the America I believe in.”
At a Hollywood party honouring the women nominated for Oscars at this weekend’s ceremony, Oscar-winners Jennifer Lawrence and Patricia Arquette took to the stand to highlight the glaring issue of equal pay for women.
On the red carpet for the Dinner for Equality event, Arquette gave a quick prelude to her official speech.
“When we talk about pay inequality it’s not about Hollywood pay inequality. It’s not about actresses’ pay inequality; it’s about the 98 per cent of the industry that has inequality,” Arquette stated.
“It’s not just about lack of diversity in film, it’s the lack of diversity in CEOs and boardrooms and any position of power. There’s a bigger conversation to be had about power-sharing.”
Inside the party, Arquette gave a moving speech, outlining her passion for the issue, and the consequences of continuing to ignore it.
“Thirty-three million women and kids who are living in poverty who would not be if they were paid their full dollar,” she continued.
“One in five kids in America are hungry and if their mothers were getting paid their full dollar, we would have a lot less hungry kids in the United States.”
This is not the first time Arquette has publicly acknowledged the problem of wage inequality. After winning Best Supporting Actress at the 2015 Oscars, she also gave an impassioned speech, which she has said she believes will cost her roles. However, considering the fact she prompted California state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to instigate the introduction of an equal pay bill the day afterwards, Arquette isn’t worried.
“I’m okay with that. But it’s not just about acting, and it’s not about me as an actor,” she stated.
“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.”
Actor Jennifer Lawrence echoed Arquette’s sentiments about equal pay, admitting she may have also jeopardised her employment options, especially given her October 2015 essay on Facebook, Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?
“It’s weird being a public figure talking about all of this stuff because you put a target on your nose,” Lawrence said.
“When I wrote that essay I got a lot of support but I also have a Republican family in Kentucky who told me my career was effectively over.”
She also commented on the senselessness of asserting we live in a post-feminist era.
“I don’t know who came up with that term, but it’s the most damaging term that we have, because it’s just not true,” she continued.
The issue of equal pay for women has been prolific for decades. It goes beyond principle of equal compensation for equal merit, affecting the standards of living for millions of people worldwide. However, with public figures such as Arquette and Lawrence using their profiles to draw real attention to the issue, we may see the pay gap close sooner than we think.