Writing about her plans to join the fight against Hollywood sexism and unequal pay, Jennifer Lawrence summed up why many women have put up with blatant inequality of pay for far too long – fear of appearing “difficult” and wanting to be liked. It is the old problem of women who are demanding being branded as “bitches” or “demanding” and men as “shrewd negotiators.” But, Lawrence has had enough, like many other actresses, most of whom have not won Oscars like she did.
Writing a piece titled Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars? in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, Lawrence noted that the imbalance between the sexes in Hollywood starts with attitudes, which carries into pay. The Sony email hack included the revelation that Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid $2 million less than their male co-stars in American Hustle. But Lawrence admitted she blamed herself.
Like working women her age in any industry trying to make their mark, she “didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ At the time, that seemed like a fine idea,” she added. “Until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’”
In her essay, Lawrence points out one email that referred to Angeline Jolie as a “spoiled brat” for wanting equality in pay. “For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man,” she writes. “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! F**k that.”
“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony,” she wrote. The actress believed she had failed as a negotiator and gave up early rather than fight about millions of dollars that the 25-year-old readily admits she does not need thanks to her roles in The Hunger Games and X-Men film franchises.
It is those franchises that make Lawrence’s decision to join the fight against Hollywood discrimination and sexism so vital. She has the box office clout that few females – or males – can add to the equal pay equation. With the second and third Hunger Games movies, the actress starred in the highest grossing films in the U.S. in both 2013 and 2014, which is the first time a female lead has done that. Given the upcoming November release of the fourth film, she should have a top, if not the top, box office draw again for 2015.
Lawrence’s piece drew support from many of her female peers, including another 25-year-old who co-starred in many top-grossing films – Emma Watson. As a goodwill ambassador for women through the United Nations, Watson has been extremely vocal on equality issues and tweeted her support and affection for Jennifer Lawrence. Other top actresses speaking out on social media included Jessica Chastain, Elizabeth Banks, Rooney Mara, Sienna Miller and others.
Few men, however, have responded publicly so far to Jennifer Lawrence’s essay or offered to join the fight against Hollywood inequality and sexism. One who did was Bradley Cooper, who costarred with Lawrence (and was paid that extra $2 million) in American Hustle. He said that “it was a good thing” to get the conversation going about pay imbalances.
Written and directed by Dyanne Weiss
Newsweek: Ongoing Hollywood Sexism Debate Picks Up Steam
Lenny: Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?
Los Angeles Times: Jennifer Lawrence ends pursuit of likability to take on the gender wage gap
Vanity Fair: Bradley Cooper, Jessica Chastain, and Even Hillary Clinton Respond to Jennifer Lawrence’s Wage Gap Essay
IMDB: Jennifer Lawrence
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr page – Creative Commons license