Nobody puts Mila in a corner! Mila Kunis tackled the topic of gender bias in the workplace in a powerful essay she published to husband Ashton Kutcher’s site on Wednesday, November 2.
In it, the award-winning actress, 33, recounted a time when she refused to pose semi-nude for a men’s magazine shoot, and was told she’d have to suffer some serious repercussions.
“‘You’ll never work in this town again,’” she quoted a producer who “threatened” her after she refused to strip down. “I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said ‘no.’ And guess what? The world didn’t end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in the town again, and again, and again. What this producer may never realize is that he spoke aloud the exact fear every woman feels when confronted with gender bias in the workplace.”
Kunis explained how many women feel the pressure to be meek or soft-spoken in the workplace: “It’s what we are conditioned to believe — that if we speak up, our livelihoods will be threatened; that standing our ground will lead to our demise. … So we compromise our integrity for the sake of maintaining the status quo and hope that change is coming.”
To counter that, she wrote, she started a production company with three other women “to develop quality television shows with unique voices and perspectives.” But the company ran into a major issue when they were attempting to pitch a show to a major network, and an “influential male producer” chimed in on an email chain with a problematic quip.
“And Mila is a mega star,” the anonymous producer wrote, Kunis says. “One of biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton’s wife and baby momma!!!”
Kunis wrote that she was so bothered by the moment that her production company opted to pull their involvement with the project. “Yes, it is only one small comment,” she wrote. “But it’s these very comments that women deal with day in and day out in offices, on calls, and in emails — micro aggressions that devalue the contributions and worth of hard-working women.”
“I’m done compromising; even more so, I’m done with being compromised,” Kunis concluded. “So from this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on; 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 an opportunity for growth. And if my comments fall on deaf ears, I will choose to walk away.”