Patricia Arquette won the award for best actress in a supporting role for Boyhood at this year’s Oscars. But her acceptance speech was far from typical. She used the air time to call for equal pay for women in America. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” said Arquette. The speech sparked a fire in audience members like Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez:
Backstage she continued with her speech saying, “The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make,” she said. “It is time for us. Equal means equal. Wage equality will help ALL women of all races in America. It will also help their children and society.”
Although many supported her call to action, she also gained more than a few critics. Much of the criticism stemmed from some of her remarks backstage. Especially after she said, “The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we all fought for to fight for us now.” Critics said Arquette was implying that all issues revolving around gays and minorities in America had already been solved, and wage equality for women was the last issue. Obviously there are still many barriers of inequality for the LGBT community and minorities that have yet to be resolved.
Another criticism of her speech is that she is a well-paid actress and provides a comfortable life for her children. Firing back, Arquette brought to light that she once lived below the poverty line and just because her kids do not live in poverty doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about the kids who do.
Other criticisms included the fact that she did this at a nationally-televised, Hollywood event. It is very easy for someone to say something powerful, but taking action and creating change is difficult. Some said that as a white woman, she didn’t understand the even deeper struggle of that black and minority women for wage equality.
Clueless and Mean Girls star, Stacey Dash, contributed to the criticism on Fox News. “I mean, first of all, Patricia Arquette needs to do her history. In 1963, Kennedy passed an equal pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights,” Dash said. But just because a law is passed doesn’t mean that it will be enforced. History proves this to be true. For example, for slavery was abolished (by law), it wasn’t eradicated for years. Dash should also try to use verbs correctly. I didn’t know you could “do” history. Did you?
Unfortunately no matter how Arquette would have worded her call for equal wages, someone, somewhere would have criticized her or try to imply that she is sexist or racist. And if she’s that passionate about women’s rights, I highly doubt that she doesn’t know that the LGBT community doesn’t have equal rights all around or that minorities aren’t discriminated against.
Arquette did have many supporters though, including Hillary Clinton. Clinton thinks that Arquette is right and I agree. Women should receive equal pay. She also has some facts supporting her stance. Forbes magazine’s top 10 paid actors and actresses only list two women, compared with eight men. According to research from Wells Fargo, even in the millennial generation, men generally make more than women.
Now the question is: will this call for equality turn into action?