According to a column in The Independent, Ryan Gosling’s Golden Globes acceptance speech was “sexist” because he thanked his wife, Eva Mendes, for her hard work taking care of their family at home.
The author, Narjas Zatat, claims that Ryan Gosling is some kind of sexist monster because he said he was grateful that Mendes was “raising our daughter, pregnant with our second and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer” while he was filming La La Land.
“If she hadn’t taken all that on so that I could have this experience, [it] would surely be someone else up here other than me to today,” he said. “Sweetheart, thank you.”
Now, all of that might sound actually kind of sweet to you, but according to Zatat, Gosling’s seemingly nice little speech was actually problematic because she “can’t help but feel that Eva Mendes, an award-winning actor in her own right, took one for the team and provided the emotional labour needed for Gosling to further his own career.”
“Yes, Mendes has agency, and the decision to put her career on the back burner for the sake of her husband’s was hers, but why did she have to make that decision to begin with?” Zatat asks.
“In 1,206 films, 60 to 90 per cent of the dialogue was delivered by men, and in an additional 307 films, that figure shot up to 90 percent,” she writes. “More damning still, a pathetic seven per cent of Hollywood directors are women.”
“It would seem that male directors are hiring male actors for male roles, meaning that Mendes simply doesn’t have the same amount of opportunities as her husband,” Zatat concludes.
First of all, you’d never hear me argue that the film industry is offering the same kinds of opportunities to women as it is to men. Sexism is very real, and there are many things that are harder for women just because we are women. But here’s the thing: What Zatat may not realize is that what she wrote in her column is far more dismissive of women than any speech that Gosling possibly could have given.
Personally, at this time in my life, I am a single, career-focused woman. There are a lot of positives to that lifestyle. I have the job of my dreams, and I love being able to throw myself into my work completely and be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I also get to live alone, which means I get to keep my Kurt Cobain lunchbox and weird Alf bobblehead on display without having to compromise on home decor with another person. I get to spend Sundays at brunch with my friends instead of staying at home watching The Wiggles, and I’ll never have to say no to an opportunity, professional or social, because I have a husband and kids at home. My life as it is is rewarding and fun, and I get incredibly annoyed when people interrogate me about when I plan to have a family as if that is the only way in the world I could ever be happy.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to be said for the other side. Yes, I may often joke that people who say money can’t bring you chicken noodle soup when you’re sick have never heard of Seamless, but there certainly are times I think about having a partner in the future. Hell, there are even maybe three or four babies I’ve seen before that looked almost kind of cute and not terrifying. The point is that even though marriage and family life may not be for me, at least not right now, that absolutely does not mean that it is not a fulfilling choice that every woman should have every right to make . . . and to be respected for choosing.
Zatat’s assumption that the only reason Mendes could possibly be taking care of her family is because a patriarchal Hollywood wouldn’t let her work is offensive to the millions of mothers who have proudly chosen that path. These women are raising actual human beings, and people like Zatat are telling them that their work is somehow less worthy of praise than pretending to be another person in front of some cameras. Being a parent is a tough and often thankless job (as Homer Simpson said, “Long hours, no pay, and at the end all you get is someone yelling ‘you screwed me up!’”) and we should be encouraging people to publicly appreciate their partners for doing it. Zatat may consider herself to be some sort of feminist hero, but what she really did was dismiss the livelihoods of millions of hard-working women — and honestly, I really don’t feel like that’s the most feminist thing to do.
– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.