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A name that once was mostly known by the Hollywood elite, has now become an association with a hacking scandal. Amy Pascal, the infamous ex-Sony Pictures co-chairman had her scandalous e-mails filled with racism, bitterness, and downright inappropriate conversation about her clients leaked to the internet creating a frenzy of drama, which ultimately ended in Pascal stepping down from her position. But, among those e-mails, a revelation that female stars are not paid as much as their male co-stars came up, and now Pascal is opening up on how she thinks those actresses can earn fair wages.
Among the leaked documents, information surfaced that female stars such as Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle earned less money from the studio than their male counterparts. Pascal insisted that since the information was leaked she had paid Lawrence a whole lot more money, but, she claims that the problem in Hollywood sexism lies in women not standing their ground. She told The Hollywood Reporter:
Here’s the problem: I run a business. People want to work for less money, I pay them less money … Women shouldn't work for less money. They should know what they’re worth. Women shouldn’t take less. ‘Stop, you don’t need the job that bad.'
What Pascal lacks in her explanation though, is negotiation, and what roles are readily available for women. The problem in the industry is that there are not as many female-driven films, making it far more difficult for actresses to actually know their worth. It is an interesting comparison to make when you think of how much TV differs in the popularity of powerful woman as the prime subjects of series, as opposed to women in Hollywood film. Just last week, Charlize Theron went through major renegotiations with her contract for the upcoming sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. Her co-star, Chris Hemsworth was signed on for a lot more money than Theron, despite the draw of both their celebrity. And especially since Chris Hemsworth’s worth comes from essentially one previous role as Thor—and Charlize Theron, well she has a much bigger resume than that (she has a freaking Oscar!).
But, big comic book/superhero movies are what is driving the industry right now, and those movies, if you haven’t noticed, are seriously dominated by men. So how does a woman not work for less money, when all the big money gigs are male roles? Jennifer Lawrence has proven to be somewhat of a paradox, driving in the most money in Hollywood last year, and heading a billion dollar franchise with a action/female lead. But yet she still was given less money at the start than her male counterparts in American Hustle. Now, if men were negotiating their terms more so than women, and asking for more money every time while women weren’t, that’s one thing. But when executives such as Amy Pascal just automatically start 7% (or more) lower pay for female co-stars, that’s where the problem lies. Yes, women in the industry should be more willing ask for better pay, but, the industry also should not assume that they can just pay women lower to begin with.