The one upside to this intense election? The fact that women have been inspired to speak out about the ways that they’ve been objectified, assaulted, and harassed at the workplace.
And yes, “the workplace” extends to Hollywood studios, too. (Sadly, gender bias exists everywhere.) Actress Mila Kunis recently penned an open letter on Medium to express her personal frustrations—and to urge women to start standing up for themselves at the office.
“Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender,” Kunis writes.
“We don’t want to be kicked out of the sand box for being a ‘bitch’, so we compromise our integrity for the sake of maintaining status quo and hope that change is coming.”
In the piece, the actress shares a range of examples, including the time a big producer threatened that she would “never work in this town again” after refusing to pose half-naked to promote the movie. “I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boys’ club,” she says. “But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it’s bullshit! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen.” Not anymore.
Her goal? Using her voice to remind women that they don’t need to put up with the crap. “I am fortunate that I have the platform to talk about this experience in the hope of bringing one more voice to the conversation, so that women in the workplace feel a little less alone and more able to push back for themselves,” she says.
Whether you head to a Hollywood set or a cubicle in a high rise, you can learn something from—and be inspired by—this #girlboss.
Keep reading for the 3 reasons Kunis says women everywhere need to fight for gender equality.
1. You shouldn’t wait for change to happen
If you decided to just play by the rules of the “boys’ club,” as Kunis likes to call it, it’ll take 136 years for both sexes to be paid equally. Kunis points out a recent study done by the American Association of University Women that showed that the pay gap rate is moving that slowly—which is why she’s done compromising.
“From this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on,” writes Kunis. “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.”
2. Blind gender biases exists everywhere
Kunis notes that you might not even notice the gender discrimination around you, and it’s “wholly undetectable for those who share the bias”—yet it’s embedded in all parts of our lives.
“We are inundated with tales of male superiority that blind us to the architecture of our own relationships,” she writes. Hence why Kunis and two female friends started their own production company to create projects that highlight important aspects of the human experience—and why she thinks all women should pursue their own success stories.
3. Life will continue, even if you stand up for yourself
We’re conditioned to believe that speaking up can lead to negative consequences, says Kunis. “We don’t want to be kicked out of the sand box for being a ‘bitch,'” she writes. “So we compromise our integrity for the sake of maintaining status quo and hope that change is coming.”
But—just as Kunis said “no” to exploiting herself for promotional purposes—life will continue after you speak up. It’ll probably even get better, since you’ll be listening to yourself and setting boundaries. “If my comments fall on deaf ears, I will choose to walk away,” she says, and urges you to do the same. It’ll be their loss, anyway.
Want to keep that empowerment flowing? Here’s how to tap into a sense of self-love, even when you’re not feeling it. And these are 8 inspiring tricks for becoming a confident woman, according to Alexis Jones.