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March 1 2016

A Better Feminism at this Year's Oscars

Hadley Heath

At last year's Oscars, Patricia Arquette won best actress. In her acceptance speech, she called for "wage equality for women" and "equal rights for women." Sadly, Arquette, like many other women, has fallen for the misuse of wage data that shows women earn 78 cents for every dollar that men make. This wage disparity is a simple average; it doesn't compare teachers to teachers, or doctors to doctors, but rather it just compares the entire fulltime female workforce to the entire fulltime male workforce.

The "wage gap" has become a serious #firstworldproblem. It's a victimhood myth that attempts to paint all (or most) women as oppressed by sexist, discriminatory employers.

This year's Oscars showed us a completely different side of feminism, a better side: A film called "The Girl in the River" about honor killing won the award for best documentary short.

Honor killing is a heinous practice. About 5,000 women are killed each year, mostly in South Asia, because they defied their families' wishes for them with regard to arranged marriages. In Pakistan, those who commit honor killings can be pardoned by family members, and this loophole makes for basically an unpunished crime.

When director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy accepted the award, she discussed the effect that the film had had in her native Pakistan. She began her speech:

This is what happened when determined women get together...

She thanks the women involved in the film's production, from the woman (Saba) who shared her story of surviving an honor killing, and the women who believed in the film at HBO. You can read more about Saba's story here. Obaid-Chinoy continued her speech:

To the men who champion women...To all the brave men out there like my father and my husband who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women. This week the Pakistani Prime Minister has said he will change the law on honor killing after watching this film. That is the power of film."

This is feminism focused on solving a real problem that profoundly affects women's basic right to life. It makes Patricia Arquette's factually incorrect focus on the so-called "wage gap" look small. 

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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