There’s a complex relationship between power and privilege, that manifests in ways both subtle and semantic, but it exists nonetheless, as Patricia Arquette learned this week. She was probably best known for playing Alison Dubois on TV’s Medium until Sunday, when she won an Oscar and her speech included an E.R.A.-infused call for equal pay.
On the one hand, good for her for issuing a “call to action” to raise awareness that children suffer the most when their moms are paid less than they deserve. That said, it might have been prudent for Arquette to have spent a bit more time on her ‘victory speech’ and, when asked to elaborate upon it, to have thought more globally about women’s issues.
When people ask me about the experience, I tell them about the stars interviewed, the sets visited, the snacks consumed, but I rarely discuss the part of American culture that puzzled and troubled me the most: its lingering race-based caste system.