Recently, at an event in Los Angeles, Gwyneth Paltrow discussed the election of Donald Trump, calling this “an exciting time to be an American because we are at this amazing inflection point and everything is kind of up in the air.” Paltrow wouldn’t say who she voted for, which is both annoying and coy, but it turns out that she is super excited because it’s such an “amazing time for entrepreneurship.”
I’m sorry, what?
For the record, I have never been a Gwyneth Paltrow hater. I kind of liked her idea to reframe divorce as conscious uncoupling, and who didn’t love watching her jam on the sidelines of Coldplay concerts when she was married to Chris Martin?
And I’m not saying I hate her now, but I’m pretty steamed at her. (Oh yeah, remember when she said we should all steam our vaginas? That was … different). I don’t care what kind of air she blows up into her body, but I do care that she’s being coy about the presidential election. Honestly, it makes me want to go back in time to make fun of her all those times I defended her to my co-workers who were bona-fide haters.
Paltrow should have been checking her privilege from day one. She’s the daughter of Hollywood elites and is an Oscar winner herself. She is at the top of the 1 percent and was on Forbes' 100 highest paid celebrities list in 2013 and 2014. She’s thin, white, blonde, CIS, and her teeth are as straight as piano keys. She basically meets the criteria of the dominant beauty norms in this country, if not the entire planet. She has an incredible opportunity to use her celebrity, her voice and her vast resources to speak on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. It's not fair to make Beyoncé do everything.
Is she seriously a mother who is putting her business interests ahead of millions of children?
Was she doing a stand-up routine in L.A. or is she seriously a mother who is putting her business interests ahead of millions of children who face one or all of the following fates in the most "exciting" period of American culture since she was born: losing medical coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed; facing deportation; facing deportation of close family members; ending up on a registry list if they are Muslim; bullying for being gay, transgender, Jewish, Muslim or disabled; harassed for being a lawfully abiding citizen from another country; and lack of access to clean water?
How can an independently wealthy mother put her business interests (when she’s already worth tens of millions of dollars) ahead of all of the vulnerable people who do not find this to be exciting time in our nation’s history? Is she seriously that tone deaf?
Look, I’m all for women-owned businesses, and if it’s her bliss to run a “lifestyle and e-commerce website” that is ultra-high-end so that people with money can buy a cutting board for $170, then I hope no one stands in her way. I personally don’t have the financial wherewithal to shop from her site, but she’s providing a service for someone and super-rich people need a place to get super-rich things. I’ll note that her 2016 Gift Guide offers $100 wireless earphones and a classic tote bag (canvas and leather) for $285.
So, her stuff is out of my price range, that’s fine, because I have Target. To each her own, right?
She has an obligation to speak up for the most vulnerable among us.
But Paltrow’s inability to acknowledge anything more than business interests in the current political climate is downright offensive.
Maybe her excuse is that she doesn’t want to jump into the political fray. To that I say, bullshit. First, it’s a political act to ignore every reality other than the business opportunities available to you and your high-end lifestyle brand. By consciously uncoupling yourself from the reality that there are whole communities who do not have safe drinking water and even more where the children do not feel safe anywhere in this country while you sell tote bags for $300 dollars is absolutely a political act.
And second, if you are going to be a business woman who asks people to spend their money on your merchandise, then you do not have the luxury of remaining apolitical. Those days are over. People on the right are boycotting "Hamilton," and progressives are boycotting companies that sell Ivanka Trump products. The atmosphere is highly charged and will be for a long time. No one who runs a commercial enterprise can escape the political fray.
If Paltrow wants to use her celebrity to get speaking engagements and to uncouple shoppers from their money, she should stop gloating about the market potential during these politically turbulent and dangerous times. And I would go further. I believe she has an obligation to speak up for the most vulnerable among us—as a woman, as a mother, as a 1 percenter. To do any less is morally objectionable.