During the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday Night, Boyhood star Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech for best supporting actress to call for wage equality in America.
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation,” Arquette said at the end of her speech, “we have fought for everybody’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
She got cheers from members of the audience, including Meryl Streep, who pointed at Arquette and cheered as she walked off the stage.
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According to Census data released last year, the average full-time working woman in America makes just 78 cents to every dollar a man makes. The gender wage gap is much worse for women of color, with black women making 64 cents and Latina women making 54 cents to every dollar a white man makes.
Arquette has made no secret of her feminist bona fides. In an interview with the Guardian about the film earlier this month, they asked her about how Hollywood treats aging actresses. “I was just enough of a feminist and pissed off about this unfair expectation to deal with it. It’s so insidious,” she told the newspaper. “Women in America, we act like we have equality when the truth is we don’t. With the Sony hack, it was recognised that those actresses worked every bit as hard, they were just as valuable commodities, they had won awards, they had huge followings and big audiences yet Jennifer [Lawrence] was paid less than the men?”
Arquette is referring to the fact that when hackers, allegedly from North Korea, released thousands of emails from the Sony production company they revealed that many actresses were paid less than their male peers.
“You could argue that it’s like that across the board. Wage difference between men and women is real. It’s not just Hollywood: women judges, doctors, lawyers make less than men. The world is sexist,” she said.
One of the efforts to make the Oscars less sexist this year is Ask Her More, founded by Jennifer Siebel Newsomr, and pushes to ask actresses more substantive questions about art and work rather than just probing them about dresses and the “mani cam.”
“There’s nothing wrong with loving fashion and being interested in what they wear,” said Cristina Escobar, communications director for the Representation Project told ThinkProgress. “But the problem is, that’s the only thing we talk about with women. Men are allowed to be their whole selves: they’re asked about their interests and passions, how it felt to make the film. It reinforces a message that women are valued for youth and appearance and men are valued for their accomplishments.”