Feminism =/= Equality

Patricia Arquette took a different approach to accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress during Sunday’s Oscar Ceremony. Toward the end of her speech Arquette called for everyone to help women receive rights they deserve.

I don’t have a problem with Arquette asking for change, nor do I have an issue with most ideals associated with feminism. I think feminism lately has gotten a raw deal by the loud minority of supporters who make outlandish demands and by the end of the day what they really want isn’t equality, it’s for women to be treated better than men. I’m speaking from personal observation in this instance, however, as I know there are many feminists who support equal rights for everyone so that every citizen is treated the same and equally, which is where I stand on this issue.

My main qualm with Arquette’s speech is where she wanted to deliver it. I don’t think the stage of the Oscars is hallowed ground; in fact, the Academy and the awards themselves are overhyped, overlong and I think are an unproductive waste of almost everyone’s time. However I think as a famous movie star, Arquette didn’t need to use her acceptance speech as a platform to address this issue. Maybe if she was talking specifically about how women are treated in Hollywood then I could see merit in her decision. But bringing in every woman and mentioning taxpayers seemed kind of off-putting on a night that is usually about the “magic” and splendor of movies.

The other main gripe against Arquette’s actions during the awards is what she said during the backstage news conference.

“It's inexcusable we go around the world talking about equal rights for women in other countries … and we don't have equal rights for women in America. The truth is even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, there are huge issues that are at play that really do affect women. It's time for all … the gay people and people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now," Arquette said after the awards.

Being the white male that I am, I cannot compare my plight to that of women. But I think for Arquette to compare the plight of women, especially white women, to that of the LGBTQ community and anyone else of a different skin color or race in this country is extremely inappropriate. These comments are especially unsolicited during an Oscar year that had a movie like “Selma” being mostly ignored by the Academy despite critical acclaim.

Overall, I think Arquette’s heart was in the right place and that her comments weren’t as scathing as some made them seem. I don’t think that Arquette’s actions will besmirch the feminism cause, but I don’t think they’ll make waves either. Feminism, I think, should seek equality for everyone. The first rung of that ladder is to make women and men equals, but singling out white women specifically is not the right way to go about doing it.