Patricia Arquette: It's Time for Gay People and People of Color to Fight for Women's Rights

Lorena O'Neil

When Patricia Arquette expanded on her inspirational speech about women's rights while backstage following her Oscars win, she sparked controversy over some of her comments.

"Equal means equal. The truth of it is the older an actress gets, the less money she makes," she said in the press room. "It's inexcusable that we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and yet ... we don't have equal rights for women in America." 

"It's time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we've fought for to fight for us now," said Arquette.

Arquette's last statement upset some critics who feel Arquette is treating different kinds of human rights as separate categories. Some people took Arquette's comments to mean her "we" only stood for white feminists. There are also people speaking out in defense of Arquette, pointing out that we shouldn't criticize the way in which she talked about equal pay because it may make other advocates fearful of speaking out in the future. Both sides are discussing their arguments via the media and Twitter.

"Perhaps someone needs to introduce Arquette to the idea that feminism, gay rights and civil rights aren't three distinct and opposing categories but rather a heavily overlapping Venn diagram," wrote Madeleine Davies in Jezebel.

"I'm generally a big fan of celebrities using their platforms to get out the message about feminism, even though they often do so by offering a defanged version sculpted to minimize backlash," said Amanda Marcotte in Slate. "But Arquette's political grandstanding played into every ugly stereotype about 'feminism' being about little more than some privileged white women trying to become more privileged. "

"The wage gap affects women of all races, and Arquette didn’t demand that we only close it for white women. Arquette’s message was that women ought not subordinate the fight for their own rights over fights for other people’s rights. I think she would agree with the idea that we can fight for rights for all different types of people simultaneously; we just shouldn’t forget women along the way. Sure, her speech wasn’t perfect, but she had the right intentions," Eliana Dockterman states in Time. "Even while we recognize the problems with her speech, feminists should be careful not to tear down their best and most visible advocates."

KJ Dell-Antonia in the New York Times writes, "But as we listen to her words being torn apart, there’s a real risk that other women, other actresses, others who may at various times in their lives have a chance for one minute that the whole country will hear, are hearing something else: Shhh."

Here's how people on Twitter responded:

The idea that queers & POC have had their time in the struggle spotlight long enough. Eek. Ma'am. Congrats on yr Oscar tho. You are talented

—roxane gay (@rgay) February 23, 2015

Patricia Arquette sure ruined her nice moment. Fighting against one injustice does not excuse blindness to others. pic.twitter.com/lhlcyk6p7m

—Wende (@webbspinner77) February 23, 2015

I was with Patricia Arquette... UNTIL: "it's time for...all the people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now."

—serena trilliams (@msLAS) February 23, 2015

Trans women of color face a pay gap Patricia Arquette couldn't imagine & continue to be murdered. Marginalization exposes folks to violence.

—Jos Truitt (@jostruitt) February 23, 2015

LMAO like how embarrassing for @PattyArquette. You think y'all already solved all the problems gays and people of color face?

—Blue Ivy's Au Pair (@MikeyTBH) February 23, 2015

Gays! People of color! Rally your troops! Patricia Arquette needs our help.

—Brandon E. Patterson (@myblackmindd) February 23, 2015

People of color and gays, it seems we owe Patricia Arquette for "fighting for us." Did anyone capture any footage of said fight?

—jamilah (@JamilahLemieux) February 23, 2015

Maybe Patricia Arquette meant it is time for men of color and gay men to fight for all women? She just needed a proof reader. (Fail)

—Je suis (@poorAlien) February 23, 2015

Patricia Arquette is about to get a most righteous history lesson. Also, does she not realize that half of all people of color ARE women?

—Carolyn Edgar (@carolynedgar) February 23, 2015

Can someone inform Patricia Arquette that feminism is inclusive of "all the gay people and all the people of color?"

—Manda (@perkins_manda) February 23, 2015

It's time for all the gay people and people of color to help Patricia Arquette google intersectionality

—hannah (@hannahviii) February 23, 2015

@PattyArquette @common @johnlegend mention REAL issues in #Oscars2015 speeches & of course the trolls come out & react in UGLY fashion #sad

—creative scorpio (@vinivinidogo) February 23, 2015

So Patricia Arquette is the latest woman to be deemed "not feminist enough" by someone who is clearly exactly the right amount of feminist?

—Jessica Kiang (@jessicakiang) February 23, 2015

I realize that Patricia Arquette meant well with her speech but the "equal rights for women in the US" bit irked me. It's a worldwide issue.

—Stephanie Cooke (@hellocookie) February 23, 2015

I'm all for rabble-rousing but the Patricia Arquette bashing really is getting overblown. Seemed like she meant "all for one, one for all."

—Dan Irving (@readwritenap) February 23, 2015

I would be really surprised if Patricia Arquette said oh yeah I meant it in that way. At least afford her the respect of asking.

—Baerin (@LegallyErin) February 23, 2015

And yes, I'm sure Patricia Arquette meant well, but she was still wrong. And it's okay to tell her why. Actually, it's sisterly to tell her

—britni danielle (@BritniDWrites) February 23, 2015

Dear anyone with an iota of privilege: I'm afraid you'll have to stop this terrible sin of being human in public. #smdh #PatriciaArquette

—Danielle(was DCPlod) (@abradacabla) February 23, 2015

#PatriciaArquette 's #Oscar speech rocked. Start w/ourselves. Women should lift other women - stop judging choices, promote great talent

—Michelle Cohen (@MichelleWCohen) February 23, 2015