JLaw Sounds Off On The Wage Gap

So many people being so smart on the Internet lately! President Obama interviewing America’s favorite Christian, prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson. (OK, Robinson may not hold that official title, but she should.) The women of Another Round interviewing Hillary Clinton. And now Jennifer Lawrence weighing in on the pay gap, via Lenny, Lena Dunham’s new TinyLetter endeavor:

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.”

It’s natural to blame oneself in such situations, to assume that you could have pushed harder during negotiations. But there is systematic bullshit happening here. “Leaning in” can only help so much when the work of women as a class, and women of color especially, is chronically, habitually undervalued.

Be mad at yourself if it inspires you to act, J.Law, but feel free to be mad at Hollywood too! It’s totally justified.

Why should J. Law even worry about coming off as “difficult” rather than “adorable” while negotiating pay? Isn’t that her agent’s job? Evelyn Mulwray, Faye Dunaway’s character in the noir classic Chinatown, wouldn’t stand for that: “I don’t get tough with anyone, Mr. Gittes. My lawyer does.”

But women shouldn’t have to hire representatives to be “difficult” — i.e., strong — on their behalf. Not anymore.

So yes, even as she was one of the most popular and bankable stars in the world, and a beautiful healthy young childless white woman at that, J. Law was paid less than her male co-stars. Since the revelations from the Sony hack, she has demanded, and received, more like what she’s worth. We can all learn from Lawrence: though we may not have her clout, we can still call out sexist bullshit when we experience it. And, as Nicole pointed out, when it’s actually in our best interest, career-wise, we can say No.

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