How the Sony Hacking Scandal Helped Us (& Our Daughters)

I’ve had mixed feelings about the Sony Pictures hacking scandal since it happened. On one hand, I think it’s completely immoral to publish people’s private e-mails without their knowledge and permission. That said, I feel like high-level executives should know better. They need to be cautious when it comes to what they say in an e-mail. In a day and age when anything you write can be forwarded, shared, and attributed to you, it’s best to subscribe to the policy of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t write it in an e-mail.” But something good has actually come from the scandal, and our daughters are the inadvertent beneficiaries of the information revealed.

You see, part of the information unearthed in those emails and files from Sony involved the salaries of the stars of some of their movies. In the case of the upcoming Frank Darabont directed The Huntsmen starring Liam Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, the e-mails showed that Hemsowrth stood to make about $10 million more than Charlize Theron. And Theron wouldn’t stand for it.

To put this in perspective, Theron has been a star for over a decade. She has been nominated for two Academy Awards and she won one for her role in Monster. Her movies have grossed over $1 billion dollars. Hemsworth, though younger, has been very successful in The Hunger Games franchise. His movies have also grossed 1 billion dollars worldwide.

So why did Hemsworth stand to make millions more than Theron, despite their similar box office records?

When the details of the e-mails were published, Theron sought to renegotiate her contract and demanded that she be paid the exact same amount as her male co-star. Because the e-mails had been made so public, the studio was faced with no choice but to yes and Theron got equal pay, which she deserved. 

The issue isn’t what this movie star gets paid or not. And it’s not fair to say that because movie stars get paid so much, they shouldn’t demand to be paid what’s fair in their marketplace. This is about shining a light on the truth about women in the workplace. We are paid significantly less than our male counterparts and now there is public proof that it’s true. And there are trailblazers like Theron who are telling us that we don’t have to take it. And neither will our daughters. 

I don’t know what my daughter will be when she grows up, but one thing I do know is that she’s going to be equal. I’m going to tell her she must always demand to be paid what she’s worth and to be treated like she’s valuable. Who knew a very public hacking scandal would help the world see that?

Photo: Getty