Actress Patricia Arquette elaborated on her now-infamous comments on equal pay after winning an Academy Award, acknowledging she “would have chosen my words a little more carefully.”
In an interview with TheWrap, the “Boyhood” star, who won in the Best Supporting Actress category at last month’s awards show, explained how playing a struggling, single mother in the film inspired her to speak out. She had planned all along to make a case for equal pay for women if she were to win the Oscar.
“You can’t go back in time,” she said “But, I guess I would have chosen my words a little more carefully. I think the way people perceived it is not the way at all I intended.”
At first, Arquette was praised when she accepted the award on stage – Meryl Streep even leaped out of her chair in approval – for her acceptance speech. “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” she said to a standing ovation, as praise also flooded social media.
But when Arquette answered some press questions backstage, golden trophy in hand, she seemed to put her foot in her mouth. “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now,” she added, after which there was an almost instant backlash.
The comment ignited rage and debate. Many critics pointed out that equal pay should not be limited to white, straight women, and one tweet even called her remark “dangerous.” Arquette was also dismantled for her response on Twitter regarding the issue of privilege, where she said she grew up poor. “As a kid I lived well below the poverty line. Not matter where I am I won’t forget women’s struggle,” she tweeted.
Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner said on MSNBC show “Melissa Harris-Perry” following the Oscars that “[Arquette] was certainly speaking from her heart. She thought she was saying the right thing.” That being said, Turner continued, it’s “totally unacceptable.”
In the interview with TheWrap, Arquette said “I don’t think people really watched that whole six minute backstage interview … or they really misconstrued it because their criticisms were not at all on point.”
On equal pay, she continued, “no one seems to want to do anything or move on this issue. Everyone should help women. Everyone has a vested interest. Every single lesbian and transgender woman is a woman. Every single woman in the African-American community is getting impacted. Every single woman in the Latino community is being impacted. This is having devastating economic consequences across the board … If people can throw their weight behind women I think it would really help each of these bases.”