Rousing approval of Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette’s demand for so-called wage equality Sunday night quickly turned to heavy criticism when she expanded on her acceptance speech backstage.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” Arquette said to applause. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
But she ticked off a lot of minority women when she expanded on the comments backstage. “It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now,” she said.
Progressive critics interpreted her comment as an inappropriate call on people who are more oppressed than Arquette to fight her battle as a straight, white woman of privilege.
Slate writer Amanda Marcotte conceded her initial speech “wasn’t the worst thing ever.” But, she wrote, “It is definitely not time for ‘all the gay people’ and ‘all the people of color’ to set aside their own battle for equality in order to fight for straight, white women now.”
“Arquette’s political grandstanding played into every ugly stereotype about ‘feminism’ being about little more than some privileged white women trying to become more privileged,” she added in the piece titled, “Patricia Arquette’s Feminism: Only for White Women.”
Jezebel writer Madeleine Davies also chimed in. “Perhaps someone needs to introduce Arquette to the idea that feminism, gay rights and civil rights aren’t three distinct and opposing categories, but rather a heavily overlapping Venn diagram.”
Arquette’s speech is the reason “women of color” are skeptical of “mainstream” feminism, tweeted feminist Roxane Gay.
Patricia's speech is the reason WoC are hesitant abt joining in on mainstream feminism. Intersectionality seems to not exist to many people.
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganTheScribe) February 23, 2015
Her comments reaffirm that white women are also oppressors, tweeted feminist Concepción Lara.
Trickle-down feminist #PatriciaArquette's entitlement to the labor of marginalized people reaffirms that WW are oppressors, too.
— Concepción Lara (@lowsell) February 23, 2015
Time published a piece trying to defend Arquette by pointing out more egregious offenses at the Oscars Sunday night, such as the number of white people that won awards, and Neil Patrick Harris’ inability to pronounce Chiwetel Ejiofor and David Oyelowo correctly.
However, writer Eliana Dockterman wrote, “comments like these make queer women and women of color hesitant about joining the mainstream movement, which can seem exclusionary and oblivious to intersectionality.”
Arquette hit back on Twitter Monday, insisting she is advocating for the rights of all women.
I have long been an advocate for the rights of the #LBGT community. The question is why aren't you an advocate for equality for ALL women?
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) February 23, 2015
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