Issues of gender equality play out in Hollywood


Despite her recent best actress win at the Oscars, Sandra Bullock has faced devastating marital woes in the foreground of camera flashes, outshining what was supposed to be a momentous occasion in her career.

The story plays out like your typical Hollywood cliché: On her upward climb to Academy success, the beautiful A-list actress spends months away from home on the set of her Oscar-buzzed film. On the other hand, her husband — bored and bitter — finds comfort in an alleged adulterous affair. In recent years relationship turmoil has plagued other silver screen starlets such as Halle Berry.

The news of Bullock’s romantic misfortunes are part of a greater social commentary. What has been referred to in Tinseltown as the “best actress curse” is more than a decade of female winners suffering from relationship troubles immediately after accepting their trophies.

So what seems to be the problem?

The underlying theme is the inner-relationship competition between husbands and their more accomplished, more famous wives. Though they should be outdated in today’s 21st century culture, existing social constructs still identify men as the breadwinners in a typical American household, in spite of great progress for women, as evidenced in an increasingly diverse professional landscape.

“It’s sad, but true, that in this day and age it’s a rare treasure of a man who can handle being married to a hugely successful woman — especially one who’s more successful at the current time than they are,” said Bonnie Fuller, the editor-in-chief of HollywoodLife.com. She indicated that when success levels are unequal, the decline in mutual support is often a consequence.

Alissa Masutani | Daily Trojan

Sympathizing with these betrayed wives, we as a society have become more and more harsh on those who are found out to be unfaithful, in part because of the greater availability of information that is leaked to public.

Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen the development of a blanket sentiment of gender equality, in which both men and women are assumed to be equal across all walks of society — personally, professionally and otherwise. The thought of a woman surpassing her husband in her career is no longer an archaic idea but instead a healthy example for people still stuck with an opposite mentality.

It might be pure coincidence that there have been so many failed relationships following award success for women; assuming a direct relationship would be reckless. However, the strong correlation seems to hint at a disappointing trend.

In a place as progressive as Hollywood, you would expect its biggest players to practice this ideal, especially in the setting of marriage. Then again, marriage hasn’t always been this industry’s strong suit.

Myth or reality, as far as becoming a more gender equal society, we all have got some way to go.

Christopher Agutos is a junior majoring in political science and public relations.  His column “Pop Life” runs every other Tuesday.

  • Student

    Best Actress Curse??? Just because two actresses have had trouble with relationships after they accept the Oscar does not warrant a curse. There is no “strong correlation” as you suggest, so you are right when you say its “pure coincedence”. Do a little more research on Jesse James and you’ll find he’s had a lot more trouble with sleeping around in the past. This was not caused by a wife that was more successful than him, it was simply cause by a man who likes to sleep around…Seriously how many times has he been in sex rehab???

    1. To the author- DO A LITTLE MORE RESEARCH!
    2. Maybe because you could never be overshadowed by a significant other doesnt mean you should take it out on society.

  • Joe

    The “feminists” have to got to get their hysteria a little more consistent. So now you’re saying, “gender equality” means people will be faithful in marriage? I thought gender “progress” meant that monogamy was old-fashioned, patriarchal, oppressive, etc, and that “gender equality” meant both sexes should be promiscuous with strangers! Could it be that “feminists” are coming around to see some benefits in traditional values?