Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Many in social media and elsewhere have weighed in on Academy Award winner Patricia Arquette's statements at the Oscar award ceremonies, where she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood. In her acceptance speech, she called for equality for women, and particularly for equal pay. Mega-stars Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez whooped their approval. But in a press conference following her award, Arquette elaborated and urged LGBTQ activists, people of color and others to get behind women's equality. Some criticized her for minimizing the equality struggles of these groups and seeming to suggest that they should wait their turn. Later, Arquette tweeted that "[w]age equality will help ALL women of all races in America. It will also help their children and society." With that, maybe this tempest can be laid to rest -- or better, taken as an opportunity to expand the conversation, as thoughtfully suggested by Imani Gandy at RH Reality Check.
Meanwhile, what has received virtually no attention is Arquette's perspective on American exceptionalism. Said Arquette during her press conference: “Equal means equal. . . . It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t [address it here.]”
Arquette specifically called for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. CEDAW ratification would, of course, also continue the pressure to achieve women's equality within the U.S. But whatever the legal vehicle for promoting greater social equality, everyone who cares about the plight of marginalized groups in the U.S. should applaud Arquette's willingness to speak out to millions of Americans with the message that human rights begins at home.