Chris Rock Critiques Jennifer Lawrence's Wage Gap Essay & Raises A Valid Point
After Jennifer Lawrence spoke out about the wage gap in an essay for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter, she received an overwhelming amount of support. Her former co-stars like Bradley Cooper and Josh Hutcherson backed the Hunger Games actor in her crusade for equal pay in Hollywood. It may have taken multiple interviews, but now even Kate Winslet has vocalized support for women being paid the same as their male counterparts. Not everyone is cheering on J.Law, though. In The New Yorker, Chris Rock commented on Lawrence's essay and his words are worth reading. The comedian said,
Black women have the hardest gig in show business. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman — if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.
While his approach is a bit blunt, this year's Oscars host raises an incredibly important point. The wage gap statistic frequently cited is that women receive 78 cents to every man's dollar (which recently increased to 79 cents in 2015), but that's only referring to white women. The wage gap for women of color is far bigger; the Census Bureau reports that black women receive 64 cents to every man's dollar, while hispanic women make only 56. That's a significant difference.
I don't love the fact that Rock seems to knock Lawrence in his quote by saying "she'd really have something to complain about" if her skin color was different. It takes away from the validity of her speaking up, which, as she points out in her essay, was hard to do in the first place. It doesn't do any good tearing someone down when raising others up.
While I may not agree with how Rock says it, I agree with what he's saying — there is not nearly enough recognition for women of color in Hollywood. In this year's Golden Globes nominations, no women of color are nominated for best actress in any film categories. There's definitely work to be done when it comes to diversity at award shows. After all, it wasn't until 2015 that Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy for the Lead Actress in a Drama. As Davis eloquently said in her acceptance speech,
The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.
Since it seems like Rock and Lawrence are both speaking about the same end goal — equal pay for everyone, regardless of gender or skin color — it doesn't do any good to invalidate someone like Lawrence's story. But comments like Rock's are important too, since they help ensure the fight for equality is more inclusive.