Equal pay? Time to call it a wrap

Posted February 23, 2015

Equal pay? Time to call it a wrap

I woke this morning to Radio 4 announcing the Oscar winners.

Best actor: Eddie Redmayne. Best film: Birdman. My ears pricked up as I listened for the best actress category. Nothing! The announcer had already skipped on to the next news item.

I eventually found out via Twitter that Julianne Moore had, as predicted, taken the coveted top prize. Why couldn't I have heard this from the BBC? Best actors, both male and female, deserve equal coverage. Never mind. At least Julianne can console herself knowing that she will receive big bucks for her screen success. Or can she?

Patricia Arquette, winner in the best supporting actress category, used her acceptance speech to highlight the fact that the big bucks offered to male actors is considerably more than the female equivalent . “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Meryl Streep’s excited reaction – repeatedly jabbing the air and hollering “yes, yes, yes!” - was as thrilling to watch as Arquette herself in full ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’ flow.

In November of last year Hilary Swank, twice an Oscar winner for actress in a leading role, complained that her male colleagues are paid up to 10 times more thn her for the same job. Speaking to students at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television she said: “ I mean, there’s two genders on this earth. Both are compelling, interesting, diverse, wonderful in all their own separate ways.”

Arquette and Swank aren’t breaking new ground with their demands for equal pay for women. The campaign has been played out for decades in the United States, like a scene in very slow motion.

In 1943, Mrs Miniver, a story about how a British housewife in rural England was touched by World War 2, scooped the best film prize. In that same year the Equal Pay Act was introduced in Congress. Twenty years later, in 1963, Lawrence of Arabia picked up the Oscar for best picture and the Equal Pay Act, which prohibited sex discrimination in pay, passed Congress.

Fast forward another 52 years … Total earnings for Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed $400 million worldwide in just two weeks. E L James, the female author who penned the blockbusting novel, is clearly raking it in. But she's still very much an exception to the rule. 

A recent report, by the World Economic Forum, stated that American women generally earn about 66% of what their counterparts do. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 50 years to bridge the remaining gap. 

It’s time to call a wrap on this gender disparity!                                       

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