It's no secret that sexism is a major workplace problem, and show business is no exception. We applaud women in Hollywood who use their platform to speak out about the wage gap and other issues faced by females in the industry. But Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke made a jaw-dropping and totally inappropriate comparison when she equated sexism to racism.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Clarke started out by making some very valid points about what it's like to be a woman in Hollywood. She correctly pointed out that women often have fewer lines than their male co-stars, and their work hours are longer due to all the time spent in hair and makeup.
Then she veered way off course with this comment: "I feel so naive for saying it, but it's like dealing with racism," Clarke told Rolling Stone. "You're aware of it, and you're aware of it, but one day, you go, 'Oh, my God, it's everywhere!' Like you suddenly wake up to it and you go, 'Wait a fucking second, are you . . . are you treating me different because I've got a pair of tits? Is that actually happening?' It took me a really long time to see that I do get treated differently. But I look around, and that's my daily life."
First of all, as a white woman, it's not Clarke's place to compare any of her experiences to racism. Regardless of how much time she may have spent educating herself about the issue, no one can understand the experience of racism unless they're actually a person of colour.
Furthermore, her comments imply that sexism and racism are one and the same when, in reality, each issue presents its own unique set of challenges. Both prejudices need to be discussed, but lumping them together isn't the correct way to have a conversation about either issue.
And perhaps most importantly, Clarke failed to discuss the importance of intersectional feminism. Sexism affects women of colour and white women differently, and that's exactly why intersectional feminism is crucial. For example, the wage gap is far worse for black and Latinx women than it is for white women.
Just like men have no place mansplaining sexism to women, white women don't have the right to compare our struggles to those faced by people of colour. And when any woman uses her platform to promote feminist causes, she'd be wise to remember that if it's not intersectional, it's not feminism at all.