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Level Playing Field

Friday, February 27, 2015
By Deepa Gahlot

At the Oscar Awards ceremony, Patricia Arquette, winner of the Best Supporting Actress trophy for Boyhood, used the platform to make a very valid statement. She said in her speech, "To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer of this nation. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all in the United States of America.”

Nobody in Hollywood—and certainly not in Bollywood—talks of equal pay for equal work. Meryl Streep, sitting in the audience rose to applaud Arquette.

 The actress, whose statement caused a social media storm, is reported to have said of Streep. “I hugged her afterward…And she's the queen of all actresses, patron saint of actresses. So, it's amazing, but it is time for us. It is time for women. Equal means equal. And the truth is, the older women get, the less money they make. The more children    the highest percentage of children living in poverty are female headed households. And it's inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don't    one of those Superior Court justices said two years ago in a    in a law speech at a university, We don't have equal rights for women in America and we don't because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn't intend it for women. So, the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it's time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of colour that we've all fought for to fight for us now."

While a whole lot of women appreciated Arquette’s courage—who speaks out against the male power structure anywhere?—some women of colour and gays slammed her as a white, privileged woman trying to speak on their behalf.

The film industry is more male-dominated than many other fields, and even top female stars get paid less than their male counterparts, who may be less talented or less of a draw than the actresses they work with. In Bollywood the disparity is even wider, but it’s not talked about, and no attempt is made to right the balance.  It’s not as if Patricia Arquette’s speech will immediately make a difference, but at least she has initiated a dialogue, and hopefully the right people are listening.

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