By Ann Belser
Patricia Arquette’s Academy Award acceptance speech last Sunday, calling for ecological sanitation in the third world and equal pay for women, came off sounding a bit like a woman who has a few too many bumper stickers on her Prius.
But her closing comments on pay inequality achieved her apparent goal of starting a conversation — setting off criticism from commentators on the the right who said equal pay for equal work has been the law since 1963 and from those on the left who said equal pay is mainly an issue for wealthy white women.
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” Ms. Arquette said, clutching her Oscar statuette for Best Supporting Actress for the movie “Boyhood” while women in the audience cheered.
While the Equal Pay Act was indeed passed a half-century ago, studies show that women are still paid less than men in the U.S. in nearly every occupation.
“During 2013, median wage earnings for female full-time workers were $706, compared with $860 per week for men — a gender wage ratio of 82.1 percent,” according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based policy group.
Earlier this month, in an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Goldie Hawn, another Academy Award winning actress, said the reason that a sequel to “First Wives Club” was never made was that the studio, which had offered lower salaries than they would have if men had been playing the roles in the first movie made in 1996, did not increase the offer for a sequel.