Mila Kunis Pens Gender-Bias Essay

November 7, 2016

Mila Kunis describes herself as “livid” in a recently penned essay calling out Hollywood on issues of gender bias. The essay was published on her husband, Ashton Kutcher’s website aplus.com.

The Black Swan star describes her experience with an unnamed producer who was pressuring her to pose semi-nude for a men’s magazine to promote an undisclosed film. However, Kunis writes, “I was no longer willing to subject myself to a naive compromise that I had previously been willing to.” This refusal was met with a threat by the producer: “You’ll never work in this town again.” Feeling livid and objectified, Mila stood her ground for the first time despite fearing the possible repercussions to her career. Much to her relief, she states, “And guess what? The world didn’t end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again.”

Mila joins a growing list of women who have called out industry sexism over the years. Other actresses taking a stand include Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, Sandra Bullock, Kerry Washington and Geena Davis. Indeed, according to research from Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media, women are underrepresented in film, and when they do appear, they are seen and heard far less than their male counterparts. They are also paid less, and are three times as likely to appear nude in scenes as their fellow male actors.

However, Kunis describes several kinds of “microaggressions” she’s encountered along her career path, saying:

“Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender. And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boy’s club. But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it’s b***! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen.”

To rise above this treatment, Kunis formed a production company with three women she admires. Together they develop shows for television, and work with many professionals who demonstrate equity and respect while tending to project details. However, Kunis describes how from time to time she continues to encounter “appalling” comments from others.

In turn, she concludes with purpose:

“I’m done compromising; even more so I’m done with being compromised. So from this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on; I will stop in the moment and do my best to educate. I cannot guarantee that my objections will be taken to heart, but at least now I am part of creating an environment where there is the opportunity for growth. And if my comments fall on deaf ears, I will choose to walk away.”

She hopes other women who experience similar unwanted remarks and diminishing treatment in the workplace will be inspired to assert themselves more readily.