In a truly delightful video for Secret deodorant’s new “I’d Rather Get Paid” campaign, actress Rinny Perkins drops bon mots highlighting the gender wage gap.
“I’d rather make 20 more cents / and get the same paycheque as gents / than hear a song with a message in it that makes me feel better for three minutes,” she sings. “Thanks for printing slogans on feminist tees / but if the future is female we’re going to need that money.”
The star-studded video features actress and advocate Sophia Bush, actress Samira Wiley, journalist and activist Catt Sadler, soccer star Abby Wambach and two-time gold medal Olympian Swin Cash.
“I couldn’t have been happier to get the call [to be in the campaign],” says Bush, who we reached by phone in Vancouver, where she is currently producing a pilot. “It’s a special thing to be one of seven women who got to work on this campaign, and to have been included in such a beautiful, diverse, amazing group.”
Growing up in the film industry before social media was what it is now, the former One Tree Hill star kept her personal life, including her advocacy, private as a way to control her own narrative. “Back then, anyone could say anything and they would print it like it was true,” says Bush. “Years later, I realized I was actually silencing my own voice.”
Below, Bush shares her personal experiences with the wage disparity, how she handles the never-ending news cycle and steps everyone can take to make a difference.
ON THE REALITY OF THE WAGE GAP
I don’t check my DMs on Instagram because, hello, I can barely keep up with my own text messages. But after we posted the video, I did go through and look at all the incoming messages. The number of women who shared stories with me about discovering their pay disparity at work was incredible. One woman found out that an entire team of men under her were all making $20,000 more than her because of an email that was accidentally cc’d to everyone in the office. It’s always guys who are like ‘[The gender wage gap] doesn’t exist’—but it does. The data is clear: on average women are paid 20% less than men in the U.S. and for women of colour those numbers are far worse. [Note: According to a Statistics Canada report from 2016, Canadian women earn an average of 74 cents to every dollar made by men, and women who are racialized, Indigenous, living with a disability or newcomers to the country earn even less.]
ON BEING PAID LESS THAN MALE CO-STARS
The disparity in our salaries [on One Tree Hill] was huge. We were young and new to the industry; nobody was advocating for us. The way the girls were treated was, ‘Ok, we have all the boys sorted out and now you girls get to take pieces of whatever is left.’ I knew that there would be some disparity, but I didn’t know how large it was until a couple of years in. Then the irony is that you have to start advocating and fighting for yourself and people will go, ‘Oh, she’s getting difficult.’ And it’s like, ‘No, I work more hours than those guys do because my call time is earlier. I don’t know why I am getting paid differently.’ It is something that [women] have all had to deal with. I think it is part of the reason why we see so many more women in my industry getting behind the camera. I am thrilled that now I am not only a female producer, but also in a position where I can be an advocate.
Swin Cash, Samira Wiley and Sophia Bush
ON SUPPORTING WOMEN OF COLOUR
The first thing we have to do is acknowledge our privilege. If that makes you uncomfortable, that’s good. You should be uncomfortable. Although it isn’t your fault, it’s a system we all benefit from. You have to be an accomplice. You can’t just not be racist, you have to be firmly anti-racist. You have to be doing the work. It’s about opening our ears and following women of colour who are educators and advocates. It is not up to white women to sit around and say, ‘Here is what white women need to be doing.’ We haven’t got sh*t changed in 200 years doing that! It’s time for us to sit down and learn from the women having the experiences how we can best support them in those moments.
ON NOT GETTING OVERWHELMED BY THE NEWS CYCLE
It’s exhausting. I take breaks. I take no-news days. I think that everyone needs to figure out how to mitigate their own stress-to-self-care ratio. We are in a place we haven’t been before. While we don’t know the outcomes of things—and yes, they very well could change the world for the worse permanently—people have constantly been committed to making the world better. For every problem there is a group of people dedicated, even sometimes at the cost of their lives, to solving that problem for the betterment of humanity. In the face of all this mania, I am very inspired by conversations about intersectionality, consent and equal pay and the list goes on and on.
ON GETTING INVOLVED
I have a reminder in my phone to call my representatives every Monday. It’s important that our elected officials hear from their constituents on the good, the bad, the ugly and the wonderful, all of the time. They need to know where our priorities lie because when we begin to steer them in the right direction with our relentless pursuit things change for the better. So first and foremost, get involved in your own community. Make sure you know when town halls happen. Make sure you’re voting in all of your elections. Make sure that your officials are hearing from you and, if you want to lend a hand [to Americans], because we clearly need it, I would imagine that there are requests you can make of [Canadian] leaders to apply some pressure [in America].