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Jennifer Lawrence Opens up About the Pressure on Women to Be “Submissive” and Likable

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During an interview with Diane Sawyer that aired on Good Morning America earlier today, Jennifer Lawrence opened up more about her Lenny Letter essay on Hollywood’s gender wage gap, and explained some of her fears about pushing for fairer compensation:

My question to myself was why am I not asking for it. I know that I’ve always kind of carried a habit of submissiveness with the idea that that makes me more likable.

[…] I felt like I had to say something because we need to talk about it. On average, women are paid 21 percent less than men. We can ask for the same exact thing that men do and we do face the reality that – we do get judged more. It’s just something that’s intrinsic. I would love to see change.

Lawrence’s mention of likability reminds me of some of the words of wisdom in Ellen Pao’s Lenny Letter essay on Silicon Valley gender bias; in her letter, Pao describes the pressure to be a “cool girl” in male-dominated work culture:

Is it just me? Am I really too ambitious while being too quiet while being too aggressive while being unlikable? Are my elbows too sharp? Am I not promoting myself enough? Am I not funny enough? Am I not working hard enough? Do I belong?

Women in most industries are taught that if we’re being treated worse than our male peers, it’s because we’re not fitting the meritocracy’s nebulous, impossible, contradictory criteria. That professional gas-lighting is worse for women of color like Pao, who have to contend with racism in addition to gender bias.

I appreciate that Lawrence mentioned “likability” and the impact she feared speaking up would have on her public image–for every person impressed by Lawrence or Pao’s courage in speaking up, there’s someone else ready to label them as “greedy bitches.”

Considering the lucrative amount Lawrence does make, it can be easy to dismiss her desire for equal compensation as excess, but her concerns are applicable to other, less profitable industries as well. Women, regardless of whether or not we meet the exacting male standards for “likability,” deserve to make as much as our male peers.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

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