Gender Pay in Hollywood

Yesterday’s i paper featured the headline “Hollywood’s most shameful act – the gender pay divide”

It begins

Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlet Johansson and Julia Roberts are among the most famous women on the planet – and their substantial pay packets reflect their superstar status. But figures published by the business magazine Forbes show that even Hollywood’s most successful women cannot escape the gender pay gap, dwarfed by those of their male counterparts.

Forbes goes on to compare the pay of top male earner Dwayne Johnson earning an estimated $64.5m (£48.9m) while top female Jennifer Lawrence earned $46m

I am all for pay equality, but it is paid on the principle of equal pay for equal work. Are these actors doing the same work? The top films tend to be action films, with lots of explosions and running around, with some dead people. These are the ones where men dominate, so they earn the most.  and this is where the problem lies. Take a look at this doctored pic of Johnson, Lawrence, Damon and Johansson.

Gender pay

Look at their clothes. The men are wearing sensible shoes, comfortable trousers that they can run around and jump off buildings in. The women are wearing shoes that would probably break their ankles if they got beyond a careful skitter, and as for the skimpy dress, it’s hardly sportswear. Add on the amount of time modern women have to spend on hair and makeup every day – The Rock could have saved the world before these women have left their bedrooms.

The whole culture of modern women’s appearance is at odds with any rational concept of equality. The fact that there was an argument over the compulsory wearing of high heels on the red carpet would have had our ancestors rolling on the ground with laughter – or perhaps horror at how far the ideals of early suffragettes have been ignored. There are famous women who claim their partners have never seen them without makeup. I have no idea how they even manage this, but it makes me wonder how equal their personal relationships are also.

But of course there are action films – Ghostbusters was a fine attempt. Women dressed in sensible action clothes. That went down well, didn’t it?

So, this debate about equal pay for female actors needs to address the wider problem – that of women’s appearance which is often so restrictive. Because it is not just about equal pay.

It is also about equal access to health and fitness. Some young women refuse to exercise because they will get sweaty or build up muscles. Never seems to be a problem for men, does it? In fact being sweaty and muscular is generally seen as attractive in men. It seems sweaty, active women are only acceptable at the Olympics.

Because the sad thing is, we are going backwards. Sigourney Weaver was cast in the first Alien film to introduce an element of uncertainty to the plot. If a manly man had been the lead, we would have expected him to survive.

We should have moved on from then, but at least in Hollywood the scripts have only got worse. How on earth can women ever expect equality when so many feel they have to waste time and money on makeup and restrictive, uncomfortable clothes, while men can roll out of bed and face the day unshaven, in a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt?


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