On her birthday Wednesday, September 30, Marion Cotillard got a cake and a slough of retorts about how her comments on feminism in Hollywood were entirely wrong.
The French actress opened up to Porter magazine Monday about her views on feminism, talking about how she believes that feminism is actually causing segregation in the film industry.
She told the magazine, "Film-making is not about gender. You cannot ask a president in a film festival like Cannes to have, like, five movies directed by women and five by men. For me, it doesn't create equality, it creates separation."
She also went on to explain that "feminist" is not a word she identifies with as a woman and an actor in Hollywood.
"I mean, I don't qualify myself as a feminist. We need to fight for women's rights, but I don't want to separate women from men. We're separated already but we're not made the same and it's the difference that creates this energy in creation and love. Sometimes in the word feminism there is too much separation."Her words were echoed by that of Emily Watson (War Horse) (not to be confused with Emma Watson, anti-feminist spokesperson) when she told reporters at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, "In terms of equal pay, there's obviously a question to be answered about how it's divided up, but I don't think it's my personal quest. I just feel so grateful that I do a job that I love and someone pays me."
Now, both women are receiving backlash for their comments. Most people would agree that both of these women missed the mark on their anti-feminist comments. Though it's their right as individuals to step away from the feminist movement, they're struggling to understand the fundamental definition of feminism and all of the inequalities that come with it.
According to Google's dictionary, the definition of feminism is "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men." With this definition in mind, the magnitude of their comments is not a question of whether or not Marion Cotillard and Emily Watson identify themselves as feminists, and it's certainly not a question of separation. It's a question of whether or not women are being portrayed as strong and independent people in films, and if they are being paid what they're worth.
For those who believe that women are being treated as equals on the screen, running the Bechdel Test on a sampling of current movies will prove that school of thought wrong. This test was created by Alison Bechdel, an author and illustrator who operated under the assumption that for a movie not to be sexist against women, it needed to have at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.
As a result of this largely sexist movement in Hollywood, one Toronto organization formed The Bechdel Bill, which is an organization dedicated to seeing at least 80 percent of all Hollywood films pass the Bechdel test. They have a long way to go, and movements just like this prove that gender does indeed matter in films, despite Marion's statements.
Furthermore, regardless of the fact that Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson are some of the best-paid actresses in the world right now, the gender pay gap doesn't exclude women in Hollywood. One study run by Forbes in 2013 showed that the men on the top-paid actors list made two and a half times as much money as the top-paid actresses. That means women in Hollywood make 40 cents for ever dollar that a man makes.
It seems that both Cotillard and Watson are products of a world where it's become acceptable for women to be treated and paid less than men. It's true that there's a separation between men and women in Hollywood, but it's not the feminists causing it. They're are actually helping to close the gap. Marion Cotillard is wrong about feminism not having a strong effect on Hollywood, and when it comes to making a change, complacency is not an option.
[Image via Ian Gavan/Getty Images]