Kit Steinkellner
March 04, 2015 1:45 pm

We were all up on our feet cheering when Patricia Arquette won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Boyhood.” Lady spent TWELVE YEARS working on the role, playing a single mom of two struggling to keep her family together and afloat. We stayed on our feet cheering when Arquette took time in her speech to advocate for gender parity:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every citizen who has paid taxes … this is our time to have wage equality and equal rights for women,” Arquette proclaimed, prompting Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez to do this:

Things took a tricky turn once she got backstage and continued to talk about the topic of gender equality for the cameras.

“It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now,” she said.

Of course, there are so many women who are ALSO gay and/or of color, and these comments made so many people who already felt marginalized feel even MORE marginalized. It was clearly not Arquette’s intent. Still, you don’t have to intend to hurt people in order to hurt them. Ignorance can be just as effective a weapon as malice.

In a recent interview for Time, Arquette was asked if she was surprised that there was “such a negative response to [her] speech and [her] backstage comments,” to which Arquette replied:

“It did surprise me. I guess I don’t think people really understood what I meant by that. I don’t think they understood what I was talking about, exactly. This is a huge discrimination issue affecting women across America. It affects whole lives — the impact of this.”

She expressed a similar sentiment to The Wrap, though there she took more ownership of the impact of her words:

“You can’t go back in time. But, I guess I would have chosen my words a little more carefully. I think the way people perceived it is not the way at all I intended.”

I just wish this all felt like more of, well, like an apology. It’s just so clear that Arquette feels like she was misunderstood, and doesn’t understand that in her efforts to champion equality and inclusiveness, she offended people with words that were meant to help.

What I do love is what she said later on in this same interview:

“Everyone should help women. Everyone has a vested interest. Every single lesbian and transgender woman is a woman,” Arquette said. “Every single woman in the African American community is getting impacted. Every single woman in the Latino community is being impacted. This is having devastating economic consequences across the board. . .If people can throw their weight behind women I think it would really help each of these bases.”

If only she had said this on her big night, if only, if only. At some point I really do hope that Arquette understands the full impact of her words. Until then, let this be a teachable moment for the rest of us. If we say something that hurts people, let’s really try to understand what it was that hurt, make the apology that needs to be made, and carry that lesson on into the future.

(Images via, via)

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