Trends: Calling Out Pay Disparity

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb of 'Today' (ET Online)

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb of ‘Today’ (ET Online)

Earlier this week, word got out that Michelle Williams got paid a per diem for quickly reshooting scenes for “All the Money in the World” ahead of its release. That per diem amounted to $80 per diem, totaling less than $1,000. Her costar Mark Wahlberg, on the other hand, was paid a whopping $1.5M for the reshoots.

As USA Today notes, “that works out to Williams being paid less than one-tenth of 1% of her male co-star.” Isn’t that crazy?! In light of this revelation, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is investigating the matter to see if any rules were violated during the making of the film.

This isn’t the first time men and women have faced a pay disparity. Far from it. But now, calling out pay disparity has become a public way to shame companies for making their employees feel undervalued.

This has been happening several times in news. After “Today” host Matt Lauer was fired, it was reported that Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie would take over as co-hosts. Kotb and Guthrie would each be paid $7M, with their combined salaries making $14M. Later was making $25M, making the difference between his salary and those of his two co-hosts $11M.

Last month, E! Entertainment host Catt Sadler left her job of 12 years, because she was paid half as much as her male co-host Jason Kennedy. Her departure did not go unnoticed: Actresses Debra Messing, Laura Dern, and Eva Longoria confronted this year’s Golden Globes red carpet pre-show hosts Guiliana Rancic and Ryan Seacrest over the issue.

Awareness of pay disparity has also spread around the world. Former BBC News editor Carrie Gracie quit her position earlier this month once she learned that she had been severely underpaid throughout her career.

The pay disparity problem has also crossed racial lines. “Hawaii Five-O” stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park each left the series last year due to pay disparity between themselves and their white costars. Though the two had been with the show since 2010, their respective raises were still 10-15% lower than those of their white costars.

It’s excellent that pay disparities are finally coming to light! Let’s hope they spur some lasting changes toward equality.

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Iceland Becomes the First Country to Legalize Equal Pay

Equal pay demonstration in Iceland (Metrovaartha)

Equal pay demonstration in Iceland (Metrovaartha)

Though I’ve never been to Iceland, I’ve heard good things. But now I think I might want to move there. Iceland has now become the first country to legalize equal pay. The measure started taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and was passed by a legislative body comprised of nearly 50% women (!).

That’s right: Iceland is now the first country where it’s illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work. Companies employing 25 people and more will need to prove that they are paying men and women equal, or face fines.

Iceland has really put its money where its mouth is on the issue of equal pay. According to the Global Gender Gap Reports (read the 2017 report) that have been published yearly since 2006, Iceland had made the fastest progress and closed around 10% of its total gender wage gap.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2017, Iceland ranks #1 in terms of smallest gender pay gap by country. In this same list, the United States rank #49, sitting beneath Peru and just above Zimbabwe. Nicaragua, Cuba and Bangladesh all outrank the U.S.

So, ladies: who’s down to move to Iceland?

Texas Planned Parenthood Will Now Provide Low-Cost IUDs

IUD (NY Mag)

IUD (NY Mag)

It’s one small step forward, but it’s still a step for womankind. Earlier this month, the Greater Texas branch of Planned Parenthood announced that they would now offer intrauterine devices (or, as they’re more commonly known, IUDs) to women who would otherwise be unable to afford them. This benefit is due to a $2M donation from the Boone Family Foundation and the Harold Simmons Foundation, with each foundation donating $1M.

This isn’t the first time a large donation to Planned Parenthood has made more birth control options possible. Colorado also received a donation earmarked for providing free IUDs. The program resulted in a 42% drop in teenage abortions, and 40% drop in overall teen pregnancy rates.

Texas’ program will begin in September. The IUDs will be available on a sliding scale fee-basis for 1K women per year.

 

How Common is Intimate Partner Violence?

James Deen and Stoya (The Guardian UK)

James Deen and Stoya (The Guardian UK)

Late last year, adult film star James Deen was accused of rape by his former girlfriend, fellow adult film star Stoya. Other performers later came forward to accuse Deen of sexual assault, but Stoya’s two tweets on Nov. 28, 2015, started Deen’s downfall: He’s since been dropped from one major studio.

Rape can be part of a larger pattern of intimate partner violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), intimate partner violence “comprises 15% of all violence crimes,” and women ages 18-24 are most likely to be “abused by an intimate partner.” In addition, 46%+ of women raped are raped by an acquaintance. Of this number, 45%+ of women are raped by an intimate partner. These are scary stats.

As of 2014, women ages 18-24 comprise 4.8% of the total population.As of the 2010 Census, women comprised 50.8% of the total population, or 156.9M+ residents. We can estimate that the current number of women in this age group who’ve been raped by an acquaintance might shake out to 155K+.

Here’s the math:

  • 156,964,212 *.0048 = 753,429 (estimate of women ages 18-24 as of 2014)
  • 753,429 * .46 = 346,578 (estimate of number of women in that age range raped by an acquaintance)
  • 346,578 * .45 = 155,961 (estimate of number of women ages 18-24 raped by an intimate partner)

Obviously, this isn’t an exact estimate, due to a couple of reasons: self-reporting (not all women will probably report rape/violence), and inaccurate data (using both 2010 and 2014 numbers).

Scary, right? Unfortunately, this is the reality, so take care of yourselves.

 

Thursday Trends: Whitewashing Asian Characters in Film

Emma Stone, 'Aloha' (Jezebel)

Emma Stone, ‘Aloha’ (Jezebel)

Let me be clear: this is not a good trend. At all. It should never have even started. And yet, here we are.

It’s still a problem.

Historically, Hollywood has always had a problem of “whitewashing,” i.e. casting white actors in roles specifically created for non-whites. The thinking is that whites are more “bankable,” but there aren’t many roles and opportunities for non-white actors as it is. So a white actor ends up taking a role from a non-white one, and many non-white people are deprived of seeing depictions of themselves on-screen.

This tends to happen a lot with Asian actors. Most recently, director Cameron Crowe came under fire for casting Emma Stone in his latest movie “Aloha.” Stone was cast as a character named Allison Ng, whose ancestry is one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Hawaiian. (Having white and Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry is traditionally known as “hapa,” deriving from the Hawaiian Pidgin word for half. So Ng’s heritage would be termed “hapa” or “hapa haole,” to include the European ancestry.)

Look at the picture above and tell me with a straight face that Emma Stone resembles anyone remotely half-Asian.

Fortunately, Crowe caught some heat for this decision, and has publicly apologized for his choice. (But he covered his ass a little, saying that the character was meant to be frustrated that her features belied her mixed-race heritage.) But Crowe could’ve easily cast an Asian or mixed-race Asian for his film. He just chose not to.

This whitewashing of Asian characters tends to come up every few years. 2010’s “The Last Airbender” received a public outcry when it was revealed that the cast was mostly non-white actors, save for Dev Patel. (The debacle coined the term “race bending.”) This was odd considering that the TV series (on which the movie was based) was set in a world with obvious Asian elements, and it was animated using anime influence.

The 2008 movie “21” centered on the real-life story of the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of current and former students who beat the casinos at their own game by counting cards. Though many of the group were of Indian and Asian descent, the movie whitewashed the cast, using mostly Caucasian actors.

And then there are the times when white actors are actually put in yellowface. 2012’s “Cloud Atlas,” which had the ensemble actors playing various characters, actually had two examples of this, and took it past the point of no return: Jim Sturgess (who was also in “21”) and James D’Arcy both played Korean men at one point. Sturgess and D’Arcy are both white men, but they both spent extensive time in makeup to more realistically resemble Asian men.

This is far from a new problem. The 1956 film “Teahouse of the August Moon” featured legendary actor Marlon Brando as Japanese villager Sakini, donning full-on yellowface to physically embody the role. And everyone who’s seen 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” remembers Mickey Rooney as Holly Golightly’s Japanese neighbor I.Y. Yunioshi, who, seen through modern eyes, was a jaw-droopingly offensive caricature. (“The New York Times” review of the film called Rooney “broadly exotic.”) Fortunately, the distance of time and perspective have allowed people to see that these portrayals were very offensive towards Asians, and it was wrong to a) write/portray the characters in such stereotypical ways, and b) cast actors not of the specific ethnicity to play these parts.

But maybe the message isn’t sinking in as much as it should be: Blonde, Caucasian actress Scarlett Johansson will star in DreamWorks’ adaptation of the anime title “Ghost in the Shell.”

Here’s the thing: There are so many asian and mixed-Asian actors out there. Kristin Kreuk, Chloe Bennet, Olivia Munn, John Cho, Steven Yeun, Daniel Henney, Harry Shum Jr., Sendhil Ramamurthy. And those are only the ones I didn’t need to Google off the top of my head. Point being, there’s massive opportunity here for diverse casting that reflects reality. So let’s get on it!

Confirmed: Bruce Jenner Is Transitioning

Bruce Jenner (ABC News Go)

Bruce Jenner (ABC News Go)

This is shaping up to be an absolute gangbusters year for the trans community in terms of visibility and empowerment. In just the past two weeks alone, we saw “Orange is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox pose nude for “Allure,” and transman Aydian Dowling in the lead for the “Men’s Health” title of “Ultimate Guy.” As if that weren’t already an embarrassment of riches, Olympic decathlete/”Keeping Up with the Kardashians” patriarch Bruce Jenner confirmed what everyone had been speculating about in his ABC “20/20” interview with Diane Sawyer on Friday night: He’s transitioning to become a woman (but is totally cool using male pronouns for now).

It’s a fantastic interview; watch it if you haven’t already. Jenner is now the most publicly prominent transperson out there right now. He’s in a great position that has potential to educate millions of people on what being trans means. And he wants to use his newfound identity to help empower others who feel out of place in their own lives.

It’s fantastic that Jenner has finally decided to live his life the way he sees fit, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for him. Go Bruce!

Why is Argentina Battling a Tampon Shortage?

o.b. Tampons (Jezebel)

o.b. Tampons (Jezebel)

“The Cut” recently reported that Argentina is currently experiencing a woman’s worst nightmare: a tampon shortage.

According to the Associated Press, the shortage has been going on for over two weeks. The problem stems from an impasse between importers and the government. Businesses think the Argentinean government has been slow in issuing permits for imports (Argentina imports most of its tampons from nearby Brazil), while the government feels that businesses are driving up the prices to increase profits.

A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson claims that only the most popular tampon brands and quantities are affected by the shortage.

The situation isn’t uncommon for the country. Argentina periodically has experienced shortages of medical supplies such as needles and latex gloves.

The U.S. experienced a similar situation form 2009 to 2011. Johnson & Johnson took o.b. tampons off shelves in 2009, citing a “temporary supply interruption.”  The tampons are beloved for not having an applicator and for being environmentally-friendly. The supply shortage emptied drugstore shelves and drove demand up to $99 a box on eBay. The o.b. black market ended when stores began to restock the popular tampon.

No explanation was ever given for the shortage.