FEMINISM has become fashionable in recent times.
Do you know what your male counterpart earns in your organisation?
Long gone is the idea that feminism equals bra-burning covens of hairy-legged lesbians interspersed with frumpy women so heavy they’d never get laid. Most acknowledge now that feminists come in all shapes, sizes and professions, from A-listers Beyoncé and Emma Watson to Hilary Clinton.
This week, actress Jennifer Lawrence penned an essay that many women could relate to.
After finding out she had been paid less than her co-actors for her award-winning performance in American Hustle, she penned: 'I would be lying if I didn't say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled'.
'At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realised every man I was working with definitely didn't worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled'.'
Granted, her gripes about being swindled out of millions by male film executives may fall on deaf ears but the message conveyed is one that applies to every woman. In short: having a vagina doesn’t mean you need to act like a pussy, and being born with a penis doesn’t entitle you to a lifetime of acting like a dick.
Ask for a raise when you’ve earned it. Be outspoken without being afraid of being labelled ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’ because being assertive doesn’t make you a bitch. Women like to be liked, and we’re people-pleasers (an anti-feminist statement in itself) but that shouldn’t be to the detriment of our own success. Jennifer Lawrence’s article touches on so many issues that affect the everyday woman at work who’ll never see millions (unless she wins the lottery), but what does this mean in practical terms? Did she intend to turn women into workplace warriors?
According to Forbes, Jennifer Lawrence is the 'highest paid' actress in Hollywood, but that doesn't mean we should disregard her article.
I talked about Lawrence’s article with a work colleague yesterday, and his response was ‘Yeah, but we’ve seen those photos of her now. She’s filthy’.
So what if she wants to take nude photographs? How many times has the average woman's phone screen been indecently assaulted with unwelcome 'dick pics'? The difference is the sender of said image isn’t famous, and nobody would pay money to publish it.
Just because Lawrence may have snapped herself topless for a lad she was in a relationship with, it doesn’t stop her from being able to talk about female empowerment and equality of the sexes. If anything, she’s a woman we relate to because knowing J-Law takes dirty pics of herself makes her like us. She’s a voice of value.
Her essay continues: ‘When the Sony hack happened, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early’. The reason why she was mad? ‘Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves.'
It’s a strangely familiar story.
Recently, I read a book called Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. In the book, she gives an account of when Facebook's creator, Mark Zuckerberg, offered her the job, and a salary she was prepared to accept. On the advice of her husband, she rejected the initial offer, and was later offered an even larger salary. Ballsy move.
Do you know what your male counterpart earns in your organisation? I don’t. Have you ever tried to negotiate a higher salary when you took a job? I have. It’s uncomfortable. Awkward. Forward. And it can be perceived as aggressive, especially if you’re new to an organisation. But as my dear mum always says, ‘If you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get’.
A lot of it comes down to this: women are expected to be feminine. I’ve been told I’m extremely blunt. Like Lawrence, I just don’t deal in bullshit. Yes, it’s gotten me into trouble. But I like to think it’s a lot easier to say it how it is. The people in my life who want an honest perspective, minus even the slightest bit of sugar-coating, ask me for my opinion. And that’s exactly what they get. Men wouldn’t need to justify their honesty, or face being labelled as aggressive. They’re speaking their minds. But maybe, as Lawrence says, it’s time to stop ‘trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable’. And it’s also time for women and men, to back their women: at work and at home.
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