Addressing the Wage Gap

By: Rachel Auslander

At the Oscars, Patricia Arquette called for equal pay in her speech for best supporting actress for her role in Boyhood. This was met with thunderous applause, loud cheers, and reactions of agreement from Meryl Streep and J-Lo that were so great; they were turned into a gif.

However, during a press conference backstage, Patricia Arquette said, “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.” This comment rightfully made a lot of people very angry. It definitely does exclude the struggles of women who are of color and part of the LGBTQ community. Intersectionality is very important! Feminism needs to be inclusive of all races, as well as sexualities and other differences. Women of color and who are gay don’t need to set aside their struggles to fight for others. Equality of all women should be fought for by all communities. I think that Arquette did not intend to exclude anyone with her statement, and that she really meant to say that everyone should join the fight for equal pay for all women.

I think that there are many worse things to get angry about besides the phrasing of something she said, like the wage gap. White, straight, cisgender males rule the United States in terms of pay. On top of gender inequality in pay, there is different pay for different races. According to the AAUW, women who are white make 78 cents to a man’s dollar for the same amount of work. A satiric video, Amazon Prime for Women, was created to highlight the inequality of pay for women by selling only 78% of a product, or less. The wage gap is worse for women of color. African American women only make 64 cents for every dollar that a white man makes, and Hispanic women only make 54 cents. Additionally, the pay gap has barely budged in a decade, which makes me doubt that my circumstances will be any better when I grow up and get a job.

When I typed wage gap into Google, the first suggestion was unfortunately “wage gap myth.” The first three suggestions had the headlines: “5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die,” “No, Women Don’t Make Less Money Than Men,” and “Wage Gap Myth Exposed – By Feminists.” These articles are certainly not helping to put the wage gap in the right perspective. If it is continuously shot down as a myth, it will never be solved. There are many possible solutions to fix the wage gap, but they require everyone to work together – not tear down girls for wanting to earn the money that they deserve.

Patricia Arquette tweeted reasons about why she believes in equal pay, and apologized for and clarified her comments made backstage after the Oscars. I think that if given a second chance, she would have phrased her comment differently and thought about the weight that it carried for all women.

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