At the Oscars on Sunday night, Patricia Arquette delivered one of the most riveting and well-regarded acceptance speeches of the night when she won for Best Supporting Actress. On a night that's about honoring actors and actresses at the top of their game, Arquette addressed the gender wage gap — the fact that women do not get paid the same as men for doing the same jobs. The Academy's own lack of gender and racial diversity had been very much in the spotlight leading up to the Oscars, as well.
After her win, a reporter asked Arquette about her speech backstage. And what she said next was, well, a bit disappointing. Arquette said:
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 color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.
Arquette appeared flustered, and perhaps she was stumbling around for words. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, Arquette probably wanted to emphasize that feminism and equality in the US is something that everyone should be behind.
But the sentence that came out of her mouth seemed based on the assumption that "gay people" and "people of color" aren't doing their part in fighting for women like Arquette.
"The idea that queers & POC have had their time in the struggle spotlight long enough. Eek," Roxane Gay, the author of Bad Feminist, tweeted. "I think she is great. I said that. I think these particular comments are not great."
The truth of the matter is that under the insidious umbrella of gender pay gap, that inequality affects women of color disproportionately. Fusion's Arielle Castillo explains:
The exact numbers may vary by analysis, but here’s some data from the 2012 census that backs up the gap. According to the American Association of University Women, in 2012, white, non-Hispanic women made just 78 cents on a white man’s dollar. For other groups, though, the picture was more grim: black women earned just 64 cents on a white man’s dollar, and Latinas clocked in the lowest, making 53 cents on the dollar.
In a sense, Arquette did, in a roundabout way, shed light on how the fight for equality involves us all.