It doesn’t seem far-fetched to claim, in North America at least, that the majority of people would agree that men and women are equal. However, it’s one thing to say it and quite another to act on it. In 2016, we continue to see a lot of contradictions between what we say we believe in and what our actions imply that we believe in. Some recent examples include the hubbub caused by the importance placed on gender parity in the recently appointed Canadian cabinet and how feminist writers, besieged by online abuse, have often no choice left but to retire.
In light of the magnitude of the challenge, the gender issue that inspired me to write this post seems like small potatoes. But it actually is quite significant in many ways.
This is something that happened when The X-Files first aired in 1993.
This is something that happened and is happening again to an actress who portrayed perhaps one of the first strong female leads in television history.
This is something that is happening not just to Gillian Anderson, but to most female actresses.
The news came out only a couple of days ago that Anderson was offered half of what co-star David Duchovny was offered to reprise her role as Agent Dana Scully. Now you might be tempted to go on a side rant about how actors who are already paid so much shouldn’t complain about not being paid “enough”. I agree that being paid a seven figure salary to act in a movie when teachers on average make US$50,000 in the United States puts into sharp focus what our priorities as a society are. However, the fact that actors are consistently paid so much more than actresses is yet another injustice that needs to be addressed, all the more than the gender pay gap continues to live on in nearly every occupation.
I like that there has been no man-bashing involved, at least as far as I could tell. Anderson didn’t go around insulting men and angrily screaming at whatever gods she believes in. Rather, she made it about the topic: gender equality. Her gracious way of addressing the issue makes of her voice a solid contribution to the discourse about what gender equality looks like. And while Anderson’s stand for equal pay might not in itself change the situation in Hollywood, she is adding her voice to an increasing number of actresses who are decrying the injustice. I’m hoping that actors will also start lending their voice to this cause, which would bring us even closer to a future where both genders are treated equally.