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     My Academy Awards confessions: I have not seen Birdman. I use the time allotted for the best sound editing award to get a snack and let the dog out. I like to watch the pre-show and see the beautiful gowns (and reel in horror at some of the couture creations.)

    This year, the Academy Awards got a little injection of faux feminism. Hollywood’s female elite, woefully tired of being asked, “Who are you wearing?” cried out for more substantial red carpet questions. A hashtag campaign was created (because that’s how we show our fury, America!), and #AskHerMore was launched.

    Now, the red carpet has glamour, but it also has substance, people! A star can get asked about her jewelry and her fight for clean drinking water.

    Politics mixed with the Academy Awards is nothing new. Marlon Brando famously sent a young Native American woman to pick up his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather to decry civil rights abuses. Vanessa Redgrave referred to “Zionist hoodlums” when she picked up her Best Supporting Actress award in 1978.

    This year’s vapid #AskHerMore campaign would have been a lot more effective if the actresses knew what they were talking about. Patricia Arquette, who won this year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar, proclaimed in her acceptance speech, “It's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!" This prompted Meryl Streep to nearly leap from her chair, shouting, “Yes! Yes!”

    Ms. Arquette’s passion is fabulous, and I’m sure that’s what makes her a great actor. But she’s wrong on economics. The “women make 23 cents less than men” canard is far less accurate than Arquette thinks it is. Women are more likely to work part time, to choose careers that pay less but offer more flexibility in scheduling (such as teaching), and often take time out of their paid career to care for children or other family members. Ms. Arquette: American women are okay. Really.

    Reese Witherspoon (who was nominated this year, but did not win), was a supporter of the #AskHerMore campaign. She was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter: “It's hard being a woman in Hollywood.”

    This is just the sort of remark that makes most women – thoughtful women – want to scream. Witherspoon pulls in a reported $10 million per movie, making her one of the highest paid actors (male or female) today. Yes, it’s expensive to live in California, but that’s still a pretty good paycheck. Stars also have access to perks like the Academy Award swag bags (this year’s contained items like herbal tea-based lollipops that incorporate 24 karat edible gold leaf and a luxury “glamping” trip valued at more than $12,000. That’s “glamour camping” for us cretins.) And many people in the entertainment industry employ a full staff: nanny, chef, personal trainer, driver, assistant.

    Women watching the Oscars have this sort of staff, too. It’s called, “me.”

    I acknowledge that many stars give their name and time to charitable organizations. And they should – to those whom much is given, much is expected. But it’s clear some are out of touch with both economic reality and the reality of being a woman in America.

    Women in America today have it as good as women have ever had it: We have equal education, legal protection against sexism in the workplace, the ability to pursue any career we choose, and the choice to work at home (both in paid or unpaid labor). The government does not dictate how many children we can or cannot have.

    Are things perfect? No. Many women still struggle. Some of that struggle is due to lack of education, the decision to have children outside of marriage, health issues, and addictions.  The epidemic of single motherhood is an exponentially bigger problem than the alleged discrepancy in pay. If film stars really want to influence women’s lives for the better, a message of personal moral responsibility would be the way to go. Women who get married before having children and stay married to their children’s father are happier and wealthier than women who don’t — and their kids are better off, too.

    The Academy Awards are a show. It celebrates some decent film-making, talent, beauty, and glamour. It is not the time for an economic lesson (especially if it gets the basics wrong), a time to whine about how hard your $10 million life is, or an opportunity to demand to be asked substantial questions from entertainment reporters who have 15 second sound bites to fill.

    If you want to sound off on economics, racial issues, politics, or sexism, go right ahead. Just don’t expect to do it on the red carpet, wearing a dress that costs more than most people’s yearly salary, at an event that has nothing to do with any of these topics. While movies as an art form can move us, challenge us, and get us to ask thoughtful questions about ourselves and our world, a movie is not the same as the red carpet.

    Women of Hollywood: If you wish to have your voices heard on something other than the gown you’re wearing, do what the rest of us do. Get yourself educated and then change your circle of influence accordingly. If you want to be asked substantial questions, do substantial work.

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    Just a small town girl at heart, Elise is responsible for Acton’s social media, along with researching and writing for Acton’s blog. With a M.A. in world religions, she has a background in teaching at the high school and college level.  She has also been active in Catholic parish ministries, both professionally and on a volunteer basis. She continues to teach and speak on religious education, spirituality and religious liberty issues. She is married, with five children.