Nice is nice, ladies, but tough is better. Just ask A-List Actress Jennifer Lawrence who has sworn off stereotypical, femininely sweet behavior since learning it cost her money. And to her credit she has admitted that she only has herself to blame.
“When the Sony hack happened,” said Lawrence, “and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got made at myself.”
Lawrence wrote of her pay inequity in a frank column for the feminist newsletter, Letters to Lenny. In the movie American Hustle, while her male counterparts garnered 9% of the film’s profits, she received only 7%.
“I failed as a negotiator,” she said because “ I gave up early.”
The “why” is the lesson here.
“ I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.”
I don’t know many men who value ‘nice’ in another man. So why should women? If “nice” was the one word chosen by others to describe the very essence of your being would that satisfactorily sum you up? Wouldn’t you prefer your epitaph to read, ‘Here lies a fascinating, fun, talented, dangerous or even upstanding person’ rather than just a nice one?
Perhaps many of us have had similar Jennifer Lawrence moments. I have actually signed legal documents when told to without ever reading them because I felt either bullied or inadequate to those assuring me that they were better suited to work on my behalf.
I cannot then explain the one time surge of courage or rage that manifested itself the evening I learned from my co-anchor at a local television news station that he was making more money than me despite his part time status and my permanent one.
I immediately confronted the vice president of the company and did more than just suggest that this salary discrepancy was nothing short of sexist. Shocked, he blurted out, “But you know I respect women. You know how much I respect my wife.” Why he thought that was an adequate defense is beyond me.
“I don’t care if you respect me,” I said, “I care that you pay me.”
After some verbal waffling on his part where he tried to placate me with flattery I added, or was it threatened? “I am sure the local papers would love to ask you about this salary snafu.”
I got my raise. I also got fired a year later and shudder to think that the incidents were related.
When I moved onto radio as one half of a female talk show team both my colleague and I were told, “Don’t act like women.” Which apparently meant don’t laugh or engage in conversation that might be perceived as female.
Seems a little silly to hire women to act like men when you could simply employ men and be done with it. But I assume they were trying to fill a quota or simply didn’t know how to venture into unchartered territory given that most conservative talk show hosts were and remain men.
As validation for their demand that we emulate the male of the species they cited research showing a preference for male sounding voices which was documented in an article by the ATLANTIC in 2012.
“We prefer low voices because, we assume, voices say something far beyond the words they convey: We perceive men with lower-pitched voices to be more attractive and physically stronger–and also more competent and more trustworthy–than their less burly-voiced peers. And we perceive women with lower-pitched voices along the same lines (though we also tend to perceive them, tellingly, as less attractive than their Betty Boop-y counterparts).
But there is no evidence, repeat NO EVIDENCE that the lower voiced person of either sex is superior.
Lawrence has now decided to change tact, dispense with “nice” and interact with others in a gender neutral fashion.
“A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.
I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that.”
Looks like the time has come for members of both sexes to “Man Up.”