Oscars: Four Feminist Victories and One Feminist Fail

US-OSCARS-SHOWAHH, THE OSCARS. The pomp. The prestige. The popcorn that falls down your shirt, which you don’t bother scooping out because you’re too busy being dazed by Jared Leto’s baby-blue suit and Christ-like locks. Hollywood’s grandest, most over-the-top night might seem an odd setting for serious social progress. But, though rife with other problem — I’m looking at you, Sean Penn, and lack of racial diversity amongst nominees — last night’s celebration boasted a few feminist gems that made me want to burn my popcorn-besieged bra in celebration. It also boasted one moment that made me cringe harder than I did at Sally Field’s infamous “You like me, you really, really like me!” moment. But let’s look at the good before we start trying to depress ourselves.

1. Patricia Arquette’s rallying cry for wage equality
Ever since her, in my opinion, tragically-underrated 2003 performance (“SAAAAAAM!”) as Kathryn “Kissin’ Kate” Barlow in Holes, I’ve been WCW-ing pretty hard on Patricia Arquette. That love only intensified last night when homegirl whipped out her reading glasses and turned her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress into a total bad-ass feminist rant that inspired an audience-wide uproar, even moving Queen Meryl to her royal feet. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Preach, Miss Arquette.


You go, Patricia Arquette.

2. See ya never, Mani Cam

Good riddance to silly rubbish. E! Entertainment’s highly-criticized diorama-camera that pressured actresses to show off their manicures and jewelry by ‘walking’ their fingers down a miniature runway replica is officially a thing of the past. Three cheers for women not being reduced to their accessories on the biggest night of their careers! (Also, as someone who has perpetually chipped polish — and OK, fine, the occasional Doritos cheese-dust under my nails — the prospect of being asked to flaunt my fingers up-close on national television is my personal vision of hell.)

Cate Blanchett Ask Her More
3. “Ask her about the causes she supports, not her support garments.”

Full disclosure — I ripped this quotation off of Lena Dunham. But I couldn’t have said it better myself (which, come to think of it, is probably why I’m a blogger and she has her own award-winning HBO series.) #Askhermore, a movement to broaden the scope of questions posed to ladies on the red carpet, has been trending courtesy of the Representation Project, since last year. Although fashion was still very much a hot topic last night, insulting queries like, “How long did it take you to get ready?” were noticeably replaced with more thoughtful ones like, “What drew you to this role?” Things that men have been asked at awards shows for, oh, you know, DECADES.

4. “That’s what (HeFor) she said!”
Whatever your opinion on Emma Watson’s now-iconic UN speech calling for male inclusion in feminism (For the record: hell yes to male inclusion, next time a little more emphasis on intersectionality please, Hermione), I think we can all agree that it made us feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy to see America’s awkward/adorable uncle Steve Carell rocking a pair of HeforShe cuff links last night in solidarity with the sisterhood. That is, if you even noticed. Because after all, nobody asks men about what they wear to the Oscars.

…and a dishonorable mention goes out to my man Neil Patrick Harris (who overall was an engaging, gregarious host) for singling out Octavia Spencer, one of the few women of color and curves in attendance, to watch the ballot box all night, with “no bathroom or snack breaks.” Bae, I loved your American Horror Story cameo, and you have the undisputed cutest A-list family, but what was up with this? It’s like you were looking for a way to be sexist, racist and body-shaming all rolled into one. Probably not malicious, but definitely tone-deaf. And we all know you’ve got some pipes! There’s no excuse for that.


you and us both, Octavia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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