Patricia Arquette Clarifies Oscar Speech Addressing Gender Pay Gap: 'It Was Never About Only Actresses or White Women'
"I knew that pay inequality was a risky thing to bring up at the Oscars," she writes in a new essay
Arquette, 47, penned an open letter in The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday, which discusses her reasoning for making the speech and what she believes still needs to be done in order to see real change.
“I knew that pay inequality was a risky thing to bring up at the Oscars,” she wrote. “But the truth is, I don’t think women can wait anymore.”
The actress says that since giving her speech, she’s continued to learn more about the feminist movement, which has only fueled her passion for female activism. She uses her column to apologize to those who might have felt left out in her speech, writing that she never meant to isolate anyone.
“Some people thought I was asking for actresses, or even white actresses, to be paid more,” she explains. “When I brought it up, I was talking about all women. I meant Native American women, Asian women, Latino women, African-American women, trans women, lesbian women, white women.”
She writes that while she may have given the speech in front of a room full of her peers as she accepted her Best Supporting Actress award for Boyhood, her intention was to reach people beyond Hollywood. Arquette goes on to call for an all-inclusive plan of action, even urging government to pass laws that better protect women against unfair pay practices.
“It was never about only actresses or white women to me,” she says. “The reality is that the gender pay gap exists in 98 percent of the world’s professions, and it gets worse the more education you have.”
Arquette says her main concern is with the effect that a gender pay gap has on society.
“But here’s the most important issue to me: There are tens of millions of single mothers right now in this country, and 75 percent of all low-wage earners are women, many of whom are trying to feed kids,” she writes. “There’s a direct correlation between mothers not getting paid a full dollar and child hunger in America.”
Arquette says that it’s “economic instability” that leaves many women homeless and vulnerable. She also acknowledges the LGBTQ community, calling for their safety as well.
“We also need to hear more about our lesbian sisters and our trans sisters,” she says. “Our trans sisters are the most likely women to be living in deep poverty, with 15 percent of them making less than $10,000 a year. That’s crazy and needs to change.”
Despite any backlash Arquette may have received for her speech, she says she doesn’t regret a thing.
“Your intention is to shine a light. Your intention is to activate, agitate,” she says she would go back and tell her pre-speech self. “Start people talking, and that is a good start.”