If you want a real-world example of how the gender pay gap works, read about the salary discrepancy between Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg for the All The Money In The World reshoots. On Saturday Night Live, Aidy Bryant sat at the Weekend Update desk to give her take on the equal pay problem in Hollywood through that lens.
Bryant's take was funny and an honest explainer for anyone (men) who can't understand why a woman would work for less than she's worth.
Last week, USA Today reported that Williams was paid less than a thousand dollars — that is $80 per day for the two-week shoot — while Wahlberg earned $1.5 million. To put that another way, Williams made less than 1% of what Wahlberg did.
Williams reportedly agreed to work for a reduced rate because she believed that re-casting Kevin Spacey "sends a message to predators." "I was immediately exhilarated," Williams told the L.A. Times. "I said, ‘My answer is yes. You can have my salary. You can have my Thanksgiving holiday. You can have whatever you want. Let's go do it.'"
Bryant suggested there might be another reason why Williams agreed: the urge to be "accommodating." Most women understand that urge. "I, like many girls have been taught to be accommodating and polite," Bryant explained. "Like once I felt bad about telling any Uber driver that he made a wrong turn, so I just went with him to New Jersey."
Being accommodating is nice for others, but it doesn't do much for women. Instead, it results in a never-ending loop of putting other people's feelings and well-being way before their own. Or, as Bryant explained, it makes her brain a "tornado of 'are you OK? Is she OK? I'm sorry, here's $50.'"
Women have to worry about coming off as "greedy" or "difficult," knowing if those words get attached to them it could be the end of their careers. It isn't just actresses who deal with this, it's women in every industry whose purse strings are controlled by men. The idea of being accommodating isn't about money, it's about power.
Women often feel like they have to take bad deals and be thankful they're getting a deal at all. Being accommodating is not born from a fear of speaking up, but the fear that you'll lose it all if you do speak.
When Williams' salary was made public there was outrage, but a woman getting paid less than a man for doing the same work is nothing new. Neither is the argument that women need to fight harder and speak louder to get paid fairly. For the record, Bryant thinks women are ready to negotiate harder, but she also thinks "maybe, just maybe, men at the table could also just be like a little more dec." Yes, that is cool speak for "decent" so that Bryant doesn't "come off like a shrew" (another familiar fear for many women).
"Equal pay is the goal," Bryant said, but it's time that women stop taking the brunt of the fight. As Bryant said, if women have to start thinking more like Mark Wahlberg, to speak up and ask for what they want, than he needs to start thinking more like a woman who doesn't always have the same opportunity to speak like men do. Men need to understand that it's not just about women standing up, but everyone standing together to say they won't let anyone work for less than they deserve. Now that's a truly dec move.
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