Why Jennifer Lawrence’s Letter on Feminism is Totally Relatable

By Rebecca Campo on October 28, 2015

Photo Credit: kpopstarz.com

Have you read Jennifer Lawrence’s contribution to Letters to Lenny, “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?,” yet? If not, you really should. This letter contains all the humor and laziness one comes to anticipate from Jennifer Lawrence, while making a valid point on a timely issue. In J Law’s witty letter, issues of gender inequality in Hollywood are brought up. Now don’t assume this means her essay is not applicable to the lives of women everywhere–because if you look at the broad points she makes, it is incredibly relatable.

Wage Gap

Before even diving into her actual argument (and also reiterated many times throughout the essay), Lawrence clearly states that she understands her experiences are not “relatable.” Perhaps her concerns are not directly relatable–unless you’re also a Hollywood star dealing with male co-stars who make a couple million dollars more than you–but the wage gap is a real thing that affects millions of working women. In 2014, women on average made 79% of what men did. Thus, the concept of being a working woman who earns less than her male co-workers is very relatable.

Lawrence then goes on to say that she did not bother fighting for raises in her salary because it was “millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, [she doesn’t] need.” Alright, ignore the millions for a second. If it involves a lot of hassle, many women would avoid a fight over a minor increase in their wages. As Lawrence pointed out, it may seem unnecessary. Lawrence, along with thousands of women, fear being viewed as ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’. Why waste time and effort on a fight for something unnecessary that could potentially create a negative image of oneself? But women need to remember that the inequality in the first place is just plain ridiculous! In many of her movies, Lawrence holds a role just as central to the story as her male co-stars. If their characters are equally important to the movie, and require an equal amount of effort to portray, shouldn’t the pay be equal as well? Now, if we were not discussing worldwide, box-office-breaking movies, this theory would still apply. If a women does a job of equal importance and involves the same amount of effort as that of a man, it only seems logical that she and the man would be equally compensated. So when Lawrence points out the absurdity of gender as a factor in salary, everyone should consider the implications.

Women’s Social Conditioning

Let’s return to Lawrence’s fear of coming across as greedy for a moment. Most women do not fear appearing as a self-entitled Hollywood actress, but almost every woman does concern herself with her image. Society has set standards for how women should behave that differ from those set for men. We’ve come a long way in improving this–women may now own property, wear pants, and remain unmarried if they wish–but that doesn’t mean we’re all the way there yet. Perhaps unconsciously, people tend to expect women to play a certain role. Typically this includes being polite, quiet, obedient, etc. Lawrence was simply a victim of social conditioning; she could not act in a manner that would make her appear un-lady-like. Ironic if you know anything about Lawrence’s personality. Even women who are not under the pressure of constant public surveillance can relate to the fear of being viewed in a negative light.

Don’t scare them with your intelligence

Lawrence pointed out that based on the payroll exposed by the Sony leak, “every man [she] was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’.” Even though men, too, can appear difficult or spoiled, their actions would have to be way more intense for them to earn that label. Women need to behave very moderately in order to avoid accusations of being too opinionated, self-obsessed, or over-dramatic. Lawrence mentions a time when she simply expressed her opinion in a “clear, no bull-sh*t way” and received a reaction as if what she had said was offensive. Once again, it’s possible we’re discussing less glamorous topics with less famous people, but women everywhere can relate to this. Even in the modern age, women have to be careful so as not to intimidate men in professional settings, academic settings, and even when stating a point of view.

No J Law, it isn’t just a problem in Hollywood. We all feel your pain.

It is always beneficial when someone can draw positive attention to the issue of gender inequality. Even better when it’s someone as likeable and recognizable as Jennifer Lawrence. She may be speaking about her unique experiences, but she’s talking about issues that affect women across America.

 

Info Gathered From:
http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/575/Sex-Roles.html

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Jennifer Lawrence letter published on http://www.lennyletter.com/

English Major at Gettysburg College Class of 2019

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