“I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! F— that.” Is the conclusion drawn by actress Jennifer Lawrence in a recent article that can be viewed here. The basis of her article is formed on Sony Picture e-mails that when released in a cyberattack, ravaged the studio. The e-mails have now been indexed by WikiLeaks under the sanction that they provide insight into the workings of a major geopolitically influential company and thus belong in the public domain.
Regardless of the politics that sparked the discussion, Lawrence’s comments have instigated debate. However this can be all be too easily be attributed to the over-saturation of Jennifer Lawrence in recent times. It was almost global news when she shed her “luscious mane” in favour of an “elegant pixie cut”.
Her association with gender inequality fails to trivialize the issue. Her voice only adds weight and urgency to an ever-growing dialogue in the Hollywood industry that was addressed by Patricia Arquette in her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech. Arquette’s address was met with uproarious support from non-other than Meryl Streep, who despite receiving more Academy Award nominations than any male figure in Hollywood history, has consistently failed to secure equal to her male co-stars.
In fact examination of the Forbes highest earner’s list of 2015 only includes 2 actress’s in the top 10 category for acting. This is in fact a major upset with women rarely gracing the list in the last 5 years.
Does this point to gender stereotyping in an industry run by rich, old, white, jewish males? And worse still, why should be Lawrence be complaining? She was one of the 2 females to secure a spot on the top 10 highest earners with a $52 million salary accrued via her work on 2 major franchises, “Hunger Games” and “X-men”.
Her voice only adds weight and urgency to an ever-growing dialogue
The negotiations of such large sums of money is hard to sympathise with, in fact Kate Winslet finds the whole thing “vulgar”. She attributes this to a “British thing”. But what if she refers to a dominant hegemonic ideology that infiltrates western culture? The English student’s oldest friend: Marxism. The economic value of sexism is made clear here, the key lies in the fact that half the population is made to feel they are worth less and therefore worthless. It makes girls expect less and resist less so consequently receive less.
However it is not Marxism creating feminism, rather just utilising it for financial gain. Sexism seems to have been a common feature of more recent civilisation with women in the workplace, before it wasn’t even recognised as a problem. It is infuriatingly incomprehensible to me why people performing the same task, should be paid the same wage, in recognition of a basic human right.
If we are to address the obvious, Lawrence is not the average person. “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.” She is angry over the principle and her failure to be, what she feels, an accountable role model for all women in business. Female business women, she argues, risk criticism for being called “difficult”, “spoiled” or as one producer called Angelina Jolie in a leaked e-mail, “a brat” for showing the same ingenuity as men who secure themselves the higher paychecks with less dispute.
Lawrence’s humility shines in an essay that tackles some very inconvenient truths.
Many in the media dismissed Lawrence’s article over these grounds claiming her to be overreacting in a now, safe and secure industry, thanks to governmental laws. Acts of Parliament, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and the Sex Discrimination act of 1975, mean that women should have the same job opportunities as men. Women can now be independent. But, in Hollywood, they don’t. The very fact that discrimination against women is still considered a relevant issue today is a testimony to its prominence in modern society. For if it was no longer an issue there would be no need to discuss the matter.
More worrying still is the fact that this twisted mind-set has seemingly spread from the studios to their audiences. In a voyeuristic industry, objectification is always going to be a key issue. The treatment of women as pieces of meat is unfortunately exemplified by Lawrence’s leaked iCloud photos. Merely months ago this person was slathered all over the internet and provides a shocking warning of the extremes this inequality can lead to, with only actresses the victims of these attacks.
Gender equality is a hard topic to discuss, especially from a male perspective. Many find it intimidating and take the questions that arise from it as a personal threat. It is also difficult to promote a theory that preaches equality, in what is occasionally accused of being, in an aggressive fashion. That’s why Lawrence’s humility shines in an essay that tackles some very inconvenient truths. Her contribution here is undoubtedly on the force of good, however the potential façade that is her “down to earth” media personality remains to be seen as genuine, or conforming to patriarchal idealism. That, on the other hand, is a discussion for another day.