Jennifer Lawrence Breaks Her Silence About The Wage Gape & Those Sony Leaks

jennifer-lawrence

It’s been widely talked about since the Sony Leaks happened in the fall of 2014. One of the biggest issues exposed in Hollywood, which many already had strong suspicions about, were the gender pay disparities for some of the industries top female stars.

Jennnifer Lawrence, who as the face of two of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster franchises (‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘X-Men’) could arguably be seen as the biggest actress in Tinseltown. Yet in her film ‘American Hustle’, she was paid less than her male co-stars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner.

She is certainly not the first person to talk about the wage gap, but it is the first time she has candidly shared her feelings on this issue. Writing an essay for Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s newly created Lenny Letter, J-Law held nothing back in talking about why getting paid less is so wrong, yet says Hollywood isn’t necessarily to blame. In a piece titled ‘Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?”, Jennifer said she couldn’t stay silent on this any longer.

“When it comes to the subject of feminism, I’ve remained ever-so-slightly quiet. I don’t like joining conversations that feel like they’re ‘trending.’ But with a lot of talk comes change, so I want to be honest and open and, fingers crossed, not piss anyone off,” she begins.

It’s interesting that there is a pervasive attitude of women not wanting to “piss anyone off”, especially in Hollywood, which J-Law delves into in the essay. But first, the Sony Leaks. She does admit that being an A-list movie star, there are aspects of her story that set her apart from the rest of us.

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“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. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need,” she wrote.

Now back to that concept of not wanting to piss people off. Jennifer candidly explains how her desire to be liked overshadowed her need to negotiate in the same way as her male co-stars.

“I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’. At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, 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’,” she said.

She relates it back to being a woman and being young, which hold certain silent societal barriers that in some cases prevent women from gaining equality, in favor of maintaining the status quo.

“Are we socially conditioned to behave this way?…Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?” she asks.

She recalls a work situation where she spoke her mind about an issue in a blunt, straight-forward manner. A guy she was working work, clearly not used to hearing strong female voices of authority, jumped in and told her they were “on the same team” as if she was yelling at him.

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“I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive,” she said.

She is certainly not alone in this sentiment, in fact we have seen many campaigns created to break down stigma for exactly these reasons. Sheryl Sandberg’s Ban Bossy campaign sought to challenge the adjectives used to describe young girls who are assertive and speak their mind clearly. Pantene’s brilliant ‘Labels Against Women’ video juxtaposed images of men and women doing the exact same thing in number of workplace situations, but showed how differently they were perceived. Women are thought of as bossy or bitchy for exhibiting strong leadership skills, but men are seen as authoritative and worthy of respect.

How do we change this cultural attitude from continuing generation after generation, in order for women not to feel like they are “rocking the boat” so that they CAN effectively abolish the wage gap with their unapologetic negotiating skills?

Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t believe being nice about it is working anymore.

“I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! F*ck that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share… For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man.” she said.

american-hustle-poster

Speak up. Make your voice heard. Take a stand, and don’t allow those damaging ideals that seek to hold women back to dominate your every day decisions. You can be nice, while still being firm. You can be kind, while still aggressively going after a business deal you deserve. You can be polite while not being afraid to ask for more if you know you can. It doesn’t have to be an “either or” situation, and more than ever, with the wage gap continuing to exist, who has time to waste trying to be likable to everyone?

What we need is a revolution, an army of women not just in Hollywood but in all industries changing the status quo with their voices, equipped with the right information and support in order to get what they are worth in the workplace. It is not just about learning how to negotiate better, as Jennifer clearly outlines the stigma attached to strong women can often harm them or hold them back.

Enough of the double standards, enough of the wage gap. Thank you J-Law for breaking your silence and not being afraid of speaking your mind. We are totally giving you the Mockingjay salute right now in your honor!

mockinjay-salute

 

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