Mila Kunis writes a livid letter about Hollywood sexism: 'I'm done compromising'

By Caitlin Gibson

Mila Kunis joins a growing list of stars fighting back. Photo / AP
Mila Kunis joins a growing list of stars fighting back. Photo / AP

In a scathing open letter this week, Mila Kunis condemned a Hollywood producer who threatened her when she refused to pose semi-nude - and joined a rapidly growing list of actresses who have vocally rebuked the sexism they regularly face.

Kunis didn't name the producer who told her she'd "never work in this town again" if she refused to pose partially naked on the cover of a men's magazine to promote a film years ago. His words made her "livid," she wrote, and she said "no".

"And guess what? The world didn't end," she wrote in A Plus magazine. "The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again and again. What this producer may never realise is that he spoke aloud the exact fear every woman feels when confronted with gender bias in the workplace."

And gender bias is undeniably rampant in Hollywood. Recent studies, including by Geena Davis' advocacy organisation, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, consistently reveal discouraging trends: Actresses get paid less.

They are three times as likely to appear in nude scenes as male counterparts. They get fewer roles, especially as they age, and the parts they do get have fewer speaking lines.

"Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender," Kunis wrote. "And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boys' club. But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realised that it's bull****! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen."

Davis, one of the industry's most vocal women's rights activists, has often said that the treatment of women in Hollywood - and the way they are portrayed onscreen - has become so standardised that the problem is all but invisible. But more and more women in Hollywood such as Melissa McCarthy, Patricia Arquette, and Jennifer Aniston, are aiming to change that by speaking up about their experiences.

Last year, Cate Blanchett told the New York Times she's learned to push back when asked to do nude scenes: "When the director says you really need to be topless in this scene, I go, 'Do I?"' she said. "Women need to empower themselves and claim even a character that's written in a clichd way."

At Elle Magazine's 2014 Women in Hollywood event, Jennifer Garner talked about attending a press event with her then-husband, Ben Affleck, and comparing notes afterward: "I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one ... asked me, 'How do you balance work and family'?" she said in a speech. "And he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the tits on the Blurred Lines girl."

Maggie Gyllenhaal has spoken about how she was made to feel too old for a part - at age 37: "I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me," she told the Wrap last year. "It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

Kunis this week made it clear that she would no longer give sexist comments - intentional or otherwise - a pass.

"I'm done compromising; even more so, I'm done with being compromised," she wrote. "So from this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on; I will stop in the moment and do my best to educate.

"I cannot guarantee that my objections will be taken to heart, but at least now I am part of creating an environment where there is the opportunity for growth. And if my comments fall on deaf ears, I will choose to walk away."

- Washington Post

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