Jennifer Lawrence Takes Aim at Hollywood’s Sexist Attitudes in Scathingly Honest Essay

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Academy Award winning actor Jennifer Lawrence has chosen to speak up in a big way on Hollywood’s sexist attitudes.  In an essay she touches on privilege, feminism, and scaring men and it’s yet another example of why speaking up is necessary.

Published through Lena Dunham’s newsletter service, the essay details Lawrence’s open and honest thoughts about the uneven situation revealed to her through the Sony hack (that she and Amy Adams were paid less than their male American Hustle co-stars) and what it’s made her examine since.

When Lena first brought up the idea of Lenny to me, I was excited. Excited to speak to Lena, who I think is a genius, and excited to start thinking about what to complain about (that’s not what she pitched me, it’s just what I’m gonna do). 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.” I’m even the asshole who didn’t do anything about the ice-bucket challenge — which was saving lives — because it started to feel more like a “trend” than a cause. I should have written a check, but I fucking forgot, okay? I’m not perfect. But with a lot of talk comes change, so I want to be honest and open and, fingers crossed, not piss anyone off.

It’s hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren’t exactly relatable. 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. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me).

But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. 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.” This could be a young-person thing. It could be a personality thing. I’m sure it’s both. But this is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue. Are we socially conditioned to behave this way? We’ve only been able to vote for what, 90 years? I’m seriously asking — my phone is on the counter and I’m on the couch, so a calculator is obviously out of the question. Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t “offend” or “scare” men?

A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. 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.

I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck 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. Again, this might have NOTHING to do with my vagina, but I wasn’t completely wrong when another leaked Sony email revealed a producer referring to a fellow lead actress in a negotiation as a “spoiled brat.” For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man.

I’m very happy Lawrence wrote this. I’m also very happy she’s just another person in the spotlight speaking up about the inequalities that have lasted far too long in the business. More and more these days people are feeling not just a personal need to speak up, but compelled to do so for the sake of others.  And not just with gender issues but also with regards to race. Viola Davis’ amazing Emmy acceptance speech got a lot of people talking and that’s exactly the kind of thing that needs to keep happening in order to effect change.

Unfortunately I have a feeling Lawrence’s essay will be shrugged off by some for exactly the kind of things she admits to openly. She acknowledges her privilege here saying, “It’s hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren’t exactly relatable.” Yes, she knows she’s a millionaire, you don’t need to trivialize what she’s trying to discuss (which is important) by pointing that out to her. She’s also quite young and admits that might also factor in to how she reacts to things in life.

But here’s the thing, when someone in a position of power says something, it’s heard louder than when someone else says the same thing. And Lawrence’s issues, regardless of their larger scale, can be relatable to others who aren’t exactly like her. The example she brings up of a man thinking she was yelling at him for simply being assertive is something I have personally encountered and I know other women have as well. Same with not wanting to come off as difficult when asking for more money at work (One of the biggest reasons men get raises before women is because men ask for them.). So it’s important that everyone hear what Lawrence has to say. Did you?

 

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One Response to “Jennifer Lawrence Takes Aim at Hollywood’s Sexist Attitudes in Scathingly Honest Essay”

  1. Adam Blackhat says:

    I wonder, depressingly, how long before there’s a Time cover that mirrors the Cosby photoshoot: just a page of all the women aligned with Lawrence.