No matter how many tales surface, exposing the blatant disparity of the gender wage gap, it’s guaranteed that each new instance will burn anew. The latest comes from Natalie Portman, and, yeah, it’s infuriating.
Turns out, Ashton Kutcher made three times as much money as Portman did for No Strings Attached.
Let’s let that sink it. The year was 2011. Natalie Portman was a successful former child star who had managed to bridge the gap to adult acting, scoring an Oscar for Black Swan in the process. Ashton Kutcher, meanwhile, was coming off of a string of rom-com flops, though he was making waves for being an early adopter of Twitter.
As Portman explains to Marie Claire UK, she didn’t think to be mad at the time, but boy should she have been. “I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with ‘quotes’ in Hollywood… His [quote] was three times higher than mine so they said he should get three times more. I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been,” she said.
Portman noted that while the pay gap was, obviously, significant, she feels awkward complaining while still taking home a pretty thick chunk of couch change. Even so, the difference is hugely upsetting.
She continued, “I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy … Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar … In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”
As for how to rectify the gulf, Portman believes that both men and women can (and need to) be part of the solution. She suggested, “I don’t think women and men are more or less capable. We just have a clear issue with women not having opportunities. We need to be part of the solution, not perpetuating the problem.”
One thing that definitely is helping? Stars like Portman being transparent about their incomes. From Hillary Swank to Robin Wright, Portman is just the latest actress to go on the record about the need to demand more. Anecdotes like theirs is essential, since, after all, you can’t fight a problem until people admit it’s there.