Why do Women Have to be Grateful all the Time?

Constance Wu, star of the 2018 blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, faced an onslaught of backlash toward her rather surprising comments after the news that her show, Fresh Off the Boat, had been renewed for another season.

Wu posted several tweets following the announcement that Fresh Off the Boat would be renewed for a sixth season which indicated that she was less than pleased with the news.

In response, Wu faced a barrage of both criticism and jokes. Multiple actors used her comments as their own responses to their shows being renewed.

Twitter erupted in criticism, calling Wu selfish, ungrateful and a wannabe movie star.

One main criticism was that Wu wasn’t thinking about the cast and crew who depend on the show for their livelihood. Not only does Wu not decide whether the show lives or dies, she is not the direct employer of those other people. The network made a decision that will affect her career, and she’s allowed to feel however she wants about that decision and its outcome.

Why does anyone expect that she has to stay at a job she no longer loves just to sacrifice her career for the careers of other people? Do we really expect Wu to stay on FOTB longer than she’s happy doing so, for the sake of other people’s jobs? When would we ever expect that of a man?

In a statement apologizing for her comments, Wu addresses this criticism by saying it was insensitive of her not to think about those who are struggling in their careers. While it was, from a PR standpoint, unwise of Wu to react with such public disappointment, she doesn’t owe anyone an apology for expressing her feelings.

She also explained that the renewal of FOTB meant she’d be unable to take on another project she was very passionate about.

The fact is, Wu isn’t struggling anymore. She does have other opportunities, and that’s a huge deal.

For a woman of color, making it to the point where Wu is does not come easily, and she should be able to grab every opportunity that speaks to her artistically. She is almost certainly for her current position, but she doesn’t owe us constant reassurance of that, and we shouldn’t require her to settle in her career just to make us feel comfortable.

Sure, Wu probably does want to be a movie star, and why shouldn’t she? She’s a talented actress who’s worked hard and shouldn’t have to settle for roles she feels she’s outgrown. There’s nothing selfish or ungrateful about that—it’s called managing your career.

Constance Wu has, overnight, become the Katherine Heigl of 2019 because, unfortunately for both women, we really haven’t learned anything. As Heigl showed us, women can be blacklisted in Hollywood for seeming “difficult” or “ungrateful.”

Men, meanwhile, can spend their entire careers sexually harassing and assaulting their coworkers or beating their partners and still continue to get work.

What this whole controversy shows us is that we set the bar so much higher for women, particularly women of color, than we do for men. We expect women to show their gratitude in ways we rarely ask men to do and view women more negatively for showing signs of ambition.

These expectations are just another way we keep women from succeeding professionally and from going after what they deserve, because the moment a woman isn’t complacent we can use it as a reason to deny her opportunities. We can say there’s just something unlikeable—or unelectable—about her.

Photo Credit: Samarth Vidhu

65 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 hours ago

Everyone should be grateful all the time! We are promised nothing. Even the air we breathe is a gift!

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Emma L
Emma Lyesterday

thank you

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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heather g
heather g3 days ago

Ridiculous criticism.

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Brandy S
Brandy S3 days ago

Thanks.

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Callie R
Callie R4 days ago

Thanks.

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Laura R
Laura R4 days ago

Thank you.

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Lorraine Andersen

Thanks for sharing.

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