Sunday night’s Oscars played host to a number of salient political speeches. One of the ones that got the most attention was by Patricia Arquette, who decided to make use of her platform to talk about wage equality — or, more specifically, the wage gap that currently exists between men and women.
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Arquette’s comments were almost universally well received by those watching; Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez in particular stood and applauded loudly. The reaction on social media was even generally positive.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, some conservative hosts took issue with how the Oscars were too liberal. Elisabeth Hasselbeck posited that liberal politics had become so “pervasive in Hollywood right now to the point that we can’t even watch the Oscars.” Fox News contributor Stacey Dash added that she was “appalled” by what she had seen of the speeches the night before, and that “Patricia Arquette needs to do her history. In 1963, Kennedy passed the equal pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights.”
But it was what Patricia said later as she expanded on her speech backstage that started to cause some problems.
“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.”
This remark specifically drew heavy criticism from many feminists, who explained that Arquette’s statement was a problem with modern, whitewashed feminism. Kelsey McKinney wrote in an article on Vox that “wage-focused feminism” leaves out everyone who isn’t white.
“What Arquette said backstage, and the way many people took her comments, is that people of color and gay people need to drop their causes and struggles and turn their focus to the problem of wage disparity, to the problems that affect her, as a white woman. This undertone, that white women’s issues are the important ones, has been the source of tension and anger among feminists and their allies for decades.”
Others pointed out that race is as much a factor as gender when it comes to wages, as well as sexual orientation and gender identity.
Arquette did not lose all her support, however, and many commentators came to her defense, asking people to consider the intent behind her message and not focus on just her words.
A day after her comments, Patricia took to Twitter to double down on her statements, explaining that she was calling on all women to stand together because wage inequality is an issue that affects women of all races.
Wage equality will help ALL women of all races in America. It will also help their children and society.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) February 23, 2015
Though some would argue the specific reason for the wage gap, there is still a problem, and Patricia Arquette undoubtedly gave plenty of attention to it.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]