“I don’t know that those two things — I don’t think that’s a gender issue. I’m not saying that there’s an inequality of pay, I don’t know that to be — I have a lot of women on my staff and they’re competitively paid, I can tell you that. In terms of my career, if Jenji [Kohan] wants to go through what I went through to get that … they didn’t invite me over to the smoking room and sit down and say ‘well Matthew, how much do you think you’re worth?’ There was like a year and a half of being dragged around in the press and I don’t even like to talk about it, and I certainly don’t like to talk about pay. It’s one of these things, like you’re a baseball player, and I guess your salary is public, but I don’t own a baseball team. I’m a player! There’s no player making as much as the person owning the team and no one talks about that … Jenji’s entitled to every dollar but you have to fight for it, male or female. No one gives you anything … I’m not informed on it but I think there’s a lot more — I shouldn’t speak to it, I really shouldn’t. I can just tell you that as an employer, I’ve been on top of this and I’ve never let anybody try and squeeze people out of it. January Jones had a baby on our show. Believe me, no one wanted to pay maternity leave on a 13-episode thing, and we did.”
In an interview with Huffington Post Live, Matthew Weiner, the mastermind behind “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos,” had some choice words regarding the gender pay gap (or, in his mind, the lack thereof). His thoughts are in response to “Orange Is The New Black” creator Jenji Kohan’s comment in The Hollywood Reporter that she doesn’t feel she’s getting paid as much as male show runners do. Kohan, who is good friends with Weiner, pointed to his paycheck as an example of how sexist Hollywood can be. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at his response, but the fact that Weiner writes misogyny into his work doesn’t mean the plot lines of his shows necessarily reflect his beliefs about women.
I think what Weiner meant to imply (which came off as kind of sexist) is that working in a creative field is such a vulnerable position that it screws everyone over financially, regardless of gender. Being a man doesn’t mean he hasn’t had to go through terrible times navigating the entertainment industry, and he has the right to feel upset about that. His point is understandable, but it’s not okay to dismiss the pay gap as a non-issue. It’s worth considering that perhaps one of the reasons he makes more is that his shows are simply more successful, but the thing about privilege is that those who have it often don’t notice it, so it’s not really fair of him to assume that his male privilege wasn’t an asset during his pay negotiations. Just because Weiner is dedicated to fighting inequality amongst his own employees doesn’t mean everyone else is — gender-based income inequality is alive and well in almost every field.
I also resent that he wants kudos for paying January Jones maternity leave. Sadly, paid maternity leave is a rarity in the US, but I feel like it should be a given in the case of a successful show like “Mad Men” that can clearly afford to pay for it. I also don’t like his implication that those who make less than him in his industry simply didn’t fight for it enough. When gender bias is involved, asking for a raise can get very different results based on whether a male or a female is the one fighting for it. (Also, I still haven’t forgiven him for that gratuitously graphic rape scene in “The Sopranos.”) [Huffington Post] [Image via AMC]