‘O Jennifer Lawrence I love you so. X’

catching-fire-3

In a recent essay written for Lena Dunham’s newsletter ‘Lenny’[1]; Jennifer Lawrence decided to show the world that she is more than the witty loveable actress audiences have admired. In an essay titled ‘Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?’ [2]; Lawrence shames the film industry.

Referring to the Sony hack [3]; revealing that actresses such as Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were getting paid less than their male counterparts for the movie ‘American Hustle’, Lawrence was shocked (as we should all be) at the obvious sexism that exists in Hollywood in clear figures that cannot be misinterpreted.

Blatantly showing the obvious wage gap that existed in Hollywood, one must wonder how long has this been effecting women, and how much longer do we have to fight for this basic right? The fact that it is now 2015 and we are still discussing the right to receive the same amount for the same job is not a concept I can easily understand.

The Wall Street Journal reported that men’s earnings grow twice as fast as women’s, meaning the gap is getting wider. ‘Men who work full-time earn 2.2% more year-to-date, while working women’s wages have increased by only 0.8%[4].The Institute for Women’s Policy Research [5]reports that women are ‘equal, if not main breadwinners in 4 out of 10 American households’. More women graduate college than men, yet earn less. Therefore, it’s obviously not a matter of whether or not women are qualified. May I add that while Lawrence is an Oscar winner, her male costar isn’t. So how is it, that if anyone is earning more it’s not her?

But instead of lingering on this fact, we should ask why and what now? Lawrence seems to blame herself. She recognises that a man wouldn’t have given a second thought about demanding the money they think they deserve, Lawrence questions whether women are socially conditioned to act this way. The fact that the leaked emails showed producers referring to Angelina Jolie as a ‘spoiled brat’ for questioning her pay highlights the general attitude societies develop towards women who stand up for their rights. Would a man receive the same backlash? Is this why more women aren’t labelling themselves as feminists? We are obviously living in a patriarchal society. ‘I’m over trying to find the adorable way to state my opinion and still be likeable’; is the new stance Lawrence has adopted.

While many support Lawrence’s essay, like Emma Watson, and presidential candidate; Hilary Clinton. Marion Collitard chose to distance herself from the feminist movement ‘for me it doesn’t create equality, it creates separation. I don’t qualify myself as a feminist’ [6]. If anything the absence of feminism is what enforces a separation and creates a hierarchy which places men at the top, strengthening the already patriarchal world we live in. She then makes it even worse by saying: ‘In terms of equal pay, there’s obviously a question to be answered about how it’s divided up, but I don’t think it’s my personal quest’. If not us, then who?

Women like this who are admired and pride themselves on being the epitome of modernity are unknowingly oppressed by the patriarchy. This idea of male domination still exists now as much as it did in 1990, when Bunch was writing. She argues that women are told ‘stay in your place or be afraid.. The importance of control over women can be seen in the intensity in the resistance to laws and social changes that put control of women’s bodies in women’s hands: reproductive rights’ .[7]

So can we then blame this inequality on our social conditioning? Or is it due to the religious/cultural traditions that exist? ‘Research points to the inhibiting role of particular cultures, to explain the origin and persistence of discriminatory practices’.[8] Research shows that Muslim countries that are governed by shari’a law normally impede women’s rights; suggesting that attitudes it informs, fosters gender inequality in Muslim countries.

So what factors need to be in place to guarantee complete gender equality? The West place themselves on a pedestal and claim that women in Muslim countries are disadvantaged by their cultures, norms and traditions. How can the West preach they are superior when they don’t even make sure that their women don’t suffer extreme gender inequality. CEDAW, which is needed even by the US [9] can help ‘in the global diffusion of women’s rights norms’ [10]. When can we hope that women in all countries are guaranteed complete gender equality? And what can we do to establish this? It seems no country has the perfect formula to promise that women can enjoy the same rights as men. So is there any hope for the women of the future, can we count on CEDAW and other establishments to make sure that all women starting from those in the spotlight all the way to the women working the fields are treated with the same respect.

[1] http://www.lennyletter.com/

[2] ‘Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?’, Jennifer Lawrence

[3] ‘Sony emails reveal Jennifer Lawrence paid less than male co-stars’, The Guardian

[4] ‘The Gender Pay Gap Widens as Men’s Earnings Grow Twice as Fast as Women’s’, The Wall Street Journal

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/10/20/the-gender-pay-gap-widens-as-mens-earnings-grow-twice-as-fast-as-womens/

[5] Pay Equity & Discrimination

http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination

[6] Marion Cotillard says feminism has no place in the film industry, The Guardian

[7] ‘Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Toward a Re-Vision of Human Rights’, Charlotte Bunch, Human Rights Quarterly. Vol. 12, No. 4 (Nov., 1990), pp. 486-498

[8] ‘Culture, Rights, and Norms: Women’s Rights Reform in Muslim Countries’, Feryal M. Cherif, The Journal of Politics, Vol. 72, No. 4 (October 2010), pp. 1144-1160

[9] http://citiesforcedaw.org/the-u-s-economy-needs-cedaw/

[10] Susanne Zwingel, ‘How Do Norms Travel? Theorizing International Women’s Rights in Transnational Perspective’, International Studies Quarterly, Vol 56, No. 1, (December 2011) pp. 115–129.

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About School of Politics and International Relations

This blog has been set up for the students of PO665, Advanced Topics in Politics and International Relations: Global Gender Justice, which is a course for final year Honours students in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. As part of their participation in the course, students submit blog posts that examine issues pertaining to gender justice within the family, the community, the state and global society. We aim to explore the extent to which gender inequality within the state has an impact on state behaviour, with a specific focus on state development and state security, and further aim to analyse the effectiveness and limits of international organisations, international human rights instruments, NGOs and activists to bring about greater gender justice.
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