Mila Kunis is speaking up about the power of saying “no.”
In a blistering essay posted to husband Ashton Kutcher’s website A Plus on Wednesday, Mila acknowledged the sexism she’s experienced throughout her two-decade career, and what happened when she ultimately decided to take a stand.
“There have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender,” the 33-year-old wrote, lamenting the trend of women choosing to compromise their integrity out of fear of getting “kicked out of the sandbox for being a ‘b****.'”
Mila revealed she’d finally had enough when an unnamed producer told her she’d “never work in this town again” unless she posed semi-nude on the cover of a men’s magazine to promote their film.
After refusing the request, she made an important discovery.
“The world didn’t end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again,” she wrote.
Mila may have experienced a personal victory, but she acknowledged that there’s still a long way to go. Citing a study by the American Association of University Women, Mila wrote that the gender pay gap isn’t expected to close for another 136 years at its current rate.
However, the star isn’t just pointing out the problem – she’s also doing her part to try and fix it.
Mila went on to describe the female-led production company she formed in efforts to help create TV programming with “unique voices and perspectives.” While she wrote that many male and female colleagues have treated her and her partners as “true equals,” she still hasn’t escaped the same old obstacles.
When another producer referred to Mila as Ashton’s “baby momma” in an email pitching a project they were developing, the actress wrote that she and her partners ended up withdrawing their participation.
“He reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children,” Mila wrote, explaining that women deal with these types of “microaggressions” in every facet of their professional lives “day in and day out.”
Now, Mila is determined to continue standing her ground to hopefully set an example.
“I’m done compromising; even more so, I’m done with being compromised,” she wrote. “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 the opportunity for growth.”
Mila also has a message for those whom she feels have undermined her worth in the past, and may do so in the future.
“I will work in this town again, but I will not work with you,” she concluded.
— Erin Biglow