Poor Patricia Arquette. No doubt she thought that by sticking up for wage equality for women during her Oscars acceptance speech, she’d become a real-life heroine of the feminist movement. She’d be showered with accolades, hosannas, and you-go-girl whoops.
Instead she’s encountering ridicule and contempt that feminists typically reserve for white, male, Fox newscasters.
Why? Because, without realizing it, she’s upset the oppression scorecard on which feminists’ game of identity politics depends. But instead of pillorying Arquette for not knowing how to play, may be it’s time for feminists to rethink the game.
This is not to say that Arquette’s remarks weren’t weird. They were. First, during her acceptance speech, she suggested that women deserve wage equality with men because they give “birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation.” But where does this ova theory of value leave non-procreating women who fail to secure Uncle Sam’s future revenue stream?
Then, backstage, she went into full Joan-of-Arc mode, demanding that “gay people, and the people of color” join her fight to end wage discrimination against women “once and for all.” This is a very odd statement coming from a lady so rich that she actually chooses to forego wages. One can debate whether Hollywood’s pay scale discriminates against female actors, but that’s pretty irrelevant when it comes to Arquette. She has joked that she got paid less for Boyhood, a brilliant indie movie 12 years in the making that won her the Oscar, than she paid her dog walker. Why did she do it? Because it was a satisfying role that she could amply subsidize with lucrative gigs on TV shows such as CSI and Medium. In other words, she willingly traded monetary income for psychic income, a “luxury”—her word not mine—that the vast majority of men in the world—white, Asian, black, Latino, native American—can’t afford, forget about women. If anything, instead of complaining, she should be marveling at a system that gives her such options.