I’m sorry, everyone knows me as a pretty hard core feminist. What I’m not, though? Is one of those who erupts over chosen words. A recent article in Slate, and a really repugnant “story” has been floating around the web this morning nitpicking Patricia Arquette’s call for unification to fight for equal pay. Way to totally kill an important moment, Amanda Marcotte.
Having interviewed Arquette at length I can tell you that she speaks broadly and abstractly about a lot of different issues. When I talked to her much of the time I knew WHAT SHE MEANT. Why, because I have a brain that actually works. See, this? This is my brain thinking for itself. Wow, how did I just do that? I don’t know, I just did! Therefore, I knew what she meant when she said this:
“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.”
But Marcotte needs to be upset about SOMETHING. She needs to make this a thing. Why? To divide, not unite. To do that great thing only we women know how to do: attack each other rather than support each other. Does she really think Patricia Arquette meant: support us white women people of color and trans because you don’t count.
Is it really too difficult to take the next logical step and think about what she means? She means she has stood up for civil rights (which usually applies to African American oppression in this country of men and women but more or less based on skin color) and every other important cause that has dropped on her doorstep. If you follow her on Twitter you’ll know how deeply involved she is. What she’s saying is that we can’t have pay equality unless we all stand together behind that particular cause:
But when Arquette was asked to elaborate backstage, she gave a lengthy answer that included this statement: “And 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.”
Where to begin? Perhaps with pointing out that “gay people” and “people of color” are both categories that include women.
Does she say they aren’t? She is speaking about causes – the uproar over diversity, which also includes women. Where does she ever say “white women”?
Indeed, when it comes to wage inequality, race is as much a factor as gender. The American Association of University Women analyzed census data on the wage gap and found that although white women make 78 cents to a white man’s dollar in the United States, black women make a mere 64 cents, and Latina women make a paltry 54 cents. Similarly, being gay or transgender often means taking a hit in income. The Center for American Progress finds that same-sex couples raising children make about 20 percent less than straight couples in the same situation. Transgender people have a poverty rate that is four times that of the general population. It is definitely not time for “all the gay people” and “all the people of color” to set aside their own battle for equality in order to fight for straight, white women now.
Right, so sticking up for equal pay for women of color would fall under Arquette’s umbrella — but she means the cause of pay equality. But hey, don’t let a little bit of truth fog up the mirror for you. It’s necessary to shame women, to smack them down especially when they get out of line. No matter what she’d said unless it was a polite thank you would have gotten some kind of criticism from someone. How depressing that this time it has to come from women. For shame.