Jennifer Lawrence's Essay is Feminism Gold


Remember when Jennifer Lawrence kicked ass? Her stellar action movies The Hunger Games and X-Men may have jumped to mind, but I’m actually talking about last week’s move. Lawrence penned a provocative and badass essay about the wage gap. The essay - “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Costars?” - has taken over the media by storm. In it, Lawrence argues that for no reason other than her gender, she is paid less than her male costars for equal work.

Lawrence is quick to point out that her struggles aren’t exactly relatable - the millions of dollars she’s made from two action franchises and multiple Academy-award winning films obviously separate her from the vast majority of us. So while the wage gap isn’t a matter of putting a roof over her head, that doesn’t mean that's not also the reality for many women both in North America and around the world, and it doesn’t mean that unequal pay - no matter how big the paycheck - is fair.

But the problem doesn’t just lie with those issuing the paycheck, - though that is arguably the biggest problem. Part of the problem is also the willingness of women to fight for the pay they deserve. Lawrence writes that she was more concerned with being well-liked than with getting her fair share of the pie. She’s very aware of the pressure that our patriarchal society puts on women to be “adorable”, while men don’t really face that same pressure. She writes, “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 iInternet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’."

She gives an example about how this attitude doesn’t just happen when the paychecks are handed out - it happens in the workplace, too. When Lawrence voiced her opinion in a work meeting without any “ums” or “maybe-we-coulds” or “just-a-thoughts”, the response was as if she had been aggressive or rude. You might have faced this yourself at work or at school - I know I have.

And Lawrence is not afraid to name names. She writes, “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.”

The main argument? We need wage transparency. While the Sony hack in 2014 was illegal and exposed a lot of things the public shouldn’t know, it also revealed a serious wage gap problem in Hollywood, with one email actually calling a famous actress a “spoiled brat” for trying to negotiate her salary. This transparency is so important in proving that there is a wage gap (especially for those who still deny it exists) and to working on a solution.