Jennifer Lawrence: ‘There was no one to blame but myself’ for wage inequality

Here are some photos of Jennifer Lawrence last night in London, for a photocall/premiere for Joy. That’s her main man David O. Russell beside her. I kind of love that DOR isn’t getting much love during this awards season. While people like Quentin Tarantino thought American Hustle proved that DOR was the second coming of Martin Scorsese, I think DOR is pretty overrated as a director. Anyway, Jennifer is wearing a Dior tuxedo dress in these pics. It’s actually a good cocktail dress, and it pains me that she saved it for a relatively minor appearance. This should have been seen during her Hunger Games promotional tour.

Meanwhile, Jennifer is still talking about wage inequality. Her essay on the subject went viral in October – she wrote in very realistic terms about realizing that her male costars made so much more than her on American Hustle, and why she didn’t feel like she should or could negotiate for a bigger paycheck. Basically, she said that she’s a woman who internalized gender bias, and she was afraid of coming across like a spoiled brat by asking for equal pay. Well, J-Law has a new interview with Charlie Rose, and she’s so serious and real (like, really real) here that my heart goes out to her. She really is trying to talk about a complicated subject with authenticity, and she’s trying to take the hit so other women don’t have to. And she feels it. She tells Rose:

“When the Sony Hack happened and I saw the difference in pay, I spoke out because I knew what led to that. I knew that there was no one to blame but myself. It wasn’t Sony’s fault. It was what I had done, it was… my own mentality… We almost put this gender bias on ourselves. I feel awkward negotiating, I feel uncomfortable asking for more money, I don’t want to seem like a brat. I don’t want to seem like all these things that are only words that are used for women …”

I’m including the video below. She’s not only open and honest about how she’s internalized societal gender bias, but she’s also internalized the blame for wage inequality across the board. I understand why she feels that way – it’s almost like she believes that because she is in her enormously privileged position, it is her duty to take the hit publicly and speak out on this issue for all of the women who aren’t in such a privileged position. But she’s being unfair to herself too. Yes, I’m happy that she’s still talking about it and I’m happy that she’s taken the time to educate herself and become an activist for wage equality. But the inequalities across the board are not on her shoulders alone, you know? I feel sorry for her because her essay was a great opening for so many A-list celebrity women to really bring some #RealTalk to the table, but most of those women tapped out. Here’s the video:

Photos courtesy of Getty.

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32 Responses to “Jennifer Lawrence: ‘There was no one to blame but myself’ for wage inequality”

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  1. teehee says:

    False. If women all refused to work until we are paid better, we would live in a different society for sure. BUT no woman has walked into their careers saying “I want to be permanenlty underpaid, please dont give me a raise either” and “when I grow up, and get a degree, I want it to mean nearly nothing”.

    We never chose to have a bias against us even if we grew up with and never rejected it or even realized it.
    If she didnt KNOW there was a huge difference, then how could she have been behind this?? She accepted what was offered!

    We get offered less. We have to be “outrageous” and demand more– “for no reason other than” being a woman, because men do it, for no reason other than being men.

    • Eleonor says:

      I agree, often we are not use to negotiation, and we feel like we don’t have to, or we are embarrassed. If we don’t even try we cannot improve US and all the other women who would come after.
      Probably she trusted her agent and didn’t make any questions.

    • Hazel says:

      Yep, and we’re socialized to ‘be nice’ & not make waves, like asking for more money.

  2. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I couldn’t view the video for some reason, but, although I understand what she means about it being her own fault, I don’t agree that only she is to blame. It’s a societal thing.

  3. Linn says:

    Women not negotiation as much as men because they are afraid to look too greedy or bratty etc is a part of the problem but there is more to it.

    In many cases women ARE called too greedy or too boddy when they demand the same pay for the same work and no matter how well a women negotiates she will never get the same as her male counterparts simply because of her gender.

  4. Hawkeye says:

    It was Sony’s fault, and is incumbent on the employer to not stiff women on pay. The company suits determined who was offered what, and that pay should have been fair with regard to what her costars were paid. Equal pay for equal work, end of story.

    • perplexed says:

      I think one of the Sony people (maybe it was Amy Pascal?) said that she wasn’t going to offer more than someone asks (which I guess is how capitalism operates in all fields), so I think that’s probably why Jennifer Lawrence is willing to take some of the blame. You have to ask to get what you want. Not sure why Jennifer Lawrence’s agents couldn’t do that for her though — it’s not like she (or the men) are negotiating their pay themselves. But I’m not in Hollywood, so my knowledge is clearly limited. But I assume both the men and women have teams of lawyers willing to take the hit for them, in case their negotiations come across as too bold or whatever. I wonder if their own agents are sexist towards their women clients.

      • manta says:

        I’ve been asking myself the same question since this story came out. It’s always presented as she’s sitting alone in the room fighting for herself face to an army of suits. Clearly, that’s not my field, but I always assumed someone of her caliber had a team actually doing the legwork. I even thought she wasn’t physically present at those money oriented meetings.
        And if she instructed her team to be firm on a certain amount of money, would it have necessarily seen as “bratty”?Or more, “damn she sure has surrounded herself with the tough (good) ones”? Therefore seen as smart?
        That would have been my take. But again, absolutely not my field.

      • Hawkeye says:

        I’m operating under the assumption that the other contracts were kept confidential, so there wouldn’t be a whole lot of information available for the legal team or whoever was negotiating the contract. I agree that what Amy Pascal stated is probably why Jennifer is blaming herself a little, but my next question would be why ANYONE would think a system that outright encourages shafting women in favour of the bottom line is fine. (And I’m not suggesting that you do, @perplexed!) I also think Jennifer is back-pedaling so as not to upset anyone and endanger her own position. Final part of my rant: where are the men standing up and saying this isn’t right???

      • Dara says:

        The interview with Charlie Rose was a full hour – I recommend watching the entire thing, it should be up on his website somewhere. It offers a different side to JLaw, more serious and introspective than I’ve seen her.

        I don’t think her “only myself to blame” comment is back-pedaling at all. She mentions several times in the interview that while she may have a whole herd of professional advisors, she is very involved in her career and makes the final decision, sometimes even over-ruling their advice if there is something she feels strongly about doing…or not doing. I think she said she would rather be accountable for her own bad decisions and learn from them than blame others if something didn’t go to plan. I really admire that sense of ownership.

    • Jellybean says:

      I know it will make me unpopular here but I do not think she was stiffed on American Hustle and going on about it weakens her case. It was three years ago, she came in late to a small role that was expanded during filming and she was required for far less time than anyone else. She makes some excellent points, but this isn’t one of them. Now, if she was championing Amy Adams’ treatment in American Hustle then I would be 100% behind it, there is no excuse for that. I am pretty sure that during the early stages when the male leads were being juggled around a bit Jeremy Renner’s agent said he will sign knowing that the roles may change, but if you chose to do that you still have to match his wage to Bradley Cooper. WHY didn’t Amy Adams’ agent do that? Plus when Lawrence came on board and they started juggling percentages to try and give her more money, why didn’t someone act on the Adam’s situation? There is a lot here that is worrying, but not LAWRENCE’S pay check for this specific film.

      • K2 says:

        The problem is, if she names Amy Adams as the most screwed over (i absolutely agree with your point there), then she’s putting her in the firing line. And Amy Adams is not JLaw. She’s an older actress in an industry with a harsh sell-by for women. She isn’t a media darling in the same way (who is, right now?). She can’t presume to speak for a woman in a weaker position, even though that woman was royally screwed over.

        And there’s also the fact that JLaw was a far, far bigger box office draw than Renner, too. Actors aren’t exactly paid by the hour, when they’re A list.

      • Jellybean says:

        K2 – “Who is right now?” – but it wasn’t agreed now, it was all agreed then, 3 years or more ago.

  5. CornyBlue says:

    I feel there has been some blowback to her letter. She keeps mentioning it was her fault when it absolutely was not.
    I very recently saw the THR roundtable and i must say i found her excellent in that ( and Rampling let me down but that is another thing) . She mentions how women can be misogynistic too and how the whole view has to change and i hope she realises it is in this respect too.
    She is campaigning for this one so she will probably make the Oscar list even if Joy is an average movie in a truly wonderful year. I hate DOR . Hope he loses.

    • justagirl says:

      It is interesting that she blames herself, it’s similar to victims of abuse who blame themselves, the “I deserved it (because of what I did/didn’t do)” way of thinking.

      It’s taking too much accountability, too much responsibility… It’s difficult to see themselves as a ‘victim’, it’s easier to think they contributed to the situation than identify as the weaker party. It also gives a sense of control, that the same situation won’t happen again as long as they change what they did. It helps avoid feelings of helplessness, especially if there are ongoing circumstances – a marriage the victim feels they can’t leave, or a studio system the actor is stuck in.

      It’s kind of fascinating to see that attitude of too much ownership in relation to wage equality & the movie industry, where there is not just overt but also subtle emotional and psychological abuse at play. Separate but related topic is the David O. situation…

      • CornyBlue says:

        I had very similar thoughts. Her rise this awards season has not been very smooth and though Joy might legitimately be an avg. movie a part of me think maybe it has something to do with the letter. She got nominated for American Hustle for God’s sake and that was absolute shite.

    • Korra says:

      I honestly thought she came off like an idiot in that round table. All of them did. Even Brie sounded like a dumbass. Lol and the men’s was even worse. Michael Caine rubbed me entirely the wrong way.

      She’s trying to be sincere, but I can’t help but laugh at her Jennifer Lawrence serious face during that whole thing. The woman has a lot of internalized misogyny from the way she talks about DOR and sometimes on how she speaks on these issues too.

      • CornyBlue says:

        Well i expected her to be cracking up at every moment because i have never seen an actor’s roundtable before. I usually only see the directors but i agree.. i kind of disliked everyone except Cate Blanchett and Jen. I thought Jennifer looked really engaged and made some good points. I love her so much that i have blocked out her praise for DOR.

      • Korra says:

        I think the only thing she added was that Jennifer Lawrence was the one talking about it. That’s it. She is not articulate at all when it comes to more substantial topics or anything that’s not a silly goofy story.

        Also oh my god Cate was insufferable. I love the woman as an actress and she’s beautiful but dear lord is she pretentious and self absorbed. I should be fair these bs round tables are usually a master class in Hollywood’s narcissism so it’s nothing out of the ordinary, but lol.

        I reiterate that the actors round table was worse. Caine’s story about sending back a script because the part he thought they considered him for was too small only to feel insulted when they said….we were thinking of you as the father. Lmao. His despair and his overcoming it by saying now I don’t get the girl I get the part. And that he knew what it means to be black because he was a working class actor….yeah ok. Almost everyone on the actors round table sounded ten times more idiotic than the actresses that’s for sure.

      • Ugh says:

        Thank you. Completely agree with everything you said. _/_

  6. Farah says:

    I feel like she’s backtracking so she doesn’t upset the higher ups too much. She has a movie coming out with Sony next year. She’s not going to antagonize them completely. Especially since they did end up paying her 20+ million for Passengers.

    Good on her for speaking on the issue. And I like that she’s not generalizing too much. She’s talking about her own problems while relating instead of assuming everyone has it as good as her.

  7. Lou says:

    Jlaw really is starting to look older. She looks really tired and i don’t think her make up is helping

    • fiona says:

      I really don’t think she looks that much older. She doesn’t wear as much makeup as she used to and the hair cut adds a few years. Her face has pretty much always looked like that. She looks like a normal 25 year old to me – if anything on the younger side.

  8. annaloo. says:

    But doesn’t she realize that with this comment she is just getting back on the cycle of self doubt and insecurity? “Only myself to blame” seems noble, but it’s still a version of not wanting to upset the apple cart and releasing those that negotiated the figures of any responsibility. Sure, we all could use some more assertiveness, but she cannot possibly think that she is 100% at fault for a consistent, and systematic shorting of women for financial worth.

    C’mon Jennifer. Don’t back down.

  9. INeedANap says:

    I am tired of women catering to the weakness of men. We do not need to coddle them so they can maybe consider us equals. We need to demand respect without question.

    If I ever get a tattoo, it is going to be on my a$$ and it’s going to say “F*ck You Pay Me”.

  10. Alex says:

    I don’t think she’s backing down this is similar to what she said in the essay. There’s an internalized thing in women that we believe we can’t ask for what we deserve. Men negotiate better because they are taught to. Women are taught not to ask because we are bratty or bossy. I think that’s what she means…basically she shares some of the blame because she didn’t ASK for a higher wage

  11. LilyT says:

    Cop. Out. Wtf. JL yes. I see there are issues of personal responsibility here. But please there is a systemic problem with pay inequality, and women being put in positions where negotiating for fair pay is nearly impossible. I think that, yes, you know what when you are as rediculously privileged (rich, famous, white, successful etc) as she is you DO have some responsibility (not that most people give a damn) to speak out about important issues that effect oppressed groups you happen to be a lucky member of
    In this case women living under patriarchy.

  12. Pondering thoughts says:

    ” When the Sony Hack happened and I saw the difference in pay, I spoke out because I knew what led to that. I knew that there was no one to blame but myself. It wasn’t Sony’s fault. It was what I had done, it was… my own mentality… We almost put this gender bias on ourselves. I feel awkward negotiating, I feel uncomfortable asking for more money, I don’t want to seem like a brat. I don’t want to seem like all these things that are only words that are used for women ”

    Nope, you are not to blame. Those who wrong you are to blame. Victims are not to blame for the things that made them victims.

    Yes, I think many women feel bad about asking for pay rises or asking for a promotion.
    And additionally many male bosses make it very hard for a woman who works for them to get a promotion or a pay rise. I think many male bosses do accept pay rises and promotions for their male subordinates just because they are male. So when a male subordinate does ask then he is more likely to get something than when a female subordinate asks for the same under the same circumstances.
    Ambition is just much more acceptable in men. It is sad.

  13. fiona says:

    That whole, “it was my fault” mindset is reason why it happens to us in the first place. We cater too much. Stand your ground jennifer.