She’s a Hollywood A-lister who gets paid millions of dollars – more than you or I could ever imagine earning. Yet Jennifer Lawrence, like many women across the world, still earns less than men doing exactly the same job as her. And she’s finally spoken out about it.
In an essay called Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars? for Lena Dunham’s website Lenny, the Hunger Games star writes that during the Sony hack last year, she found out how much less she was being paid than “the lucky people with dicks”.
“It’s hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren’t exactly relatable. 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.”
The actress says that she blames herself, in part, for the fact that she earns less, because she “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).”
Like many women, she knows that the reason she hasn’t negotiated more money out of her bosses is because there’s a fear of being seen as “unlikeable”. Yet the male actors she knows don’t share those concerns.
“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’.
“This could be a young-person thing. It could be a personality thing. I’m sure it’s both. But this is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue.”
Lawrence wonders whether it’s that women are “socially conditioned to behave this way?” and suggests there could “still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men.”
But “I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! F**k that!” she concludes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. 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.”
Ultimately, Lawrence has raised an issue that is relatable to all women, however much they earn. She might not need the extra cash but that doesn’t stop the the inequality being wrong, however complex its cause. Read the full essay here.