Mila Kunis Takes on Gender Bias: ‘I'm More Than a Wife and a Mother'

'I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said 'no.''

Mila Kunis is taking a stand against sexism.

In an op-ed for Ashton Kutcher's A Plus on Wednesday, Kunis recounted an instance when she was told she would not "work in this town again," by an unidentified film producer after refusing to pose semi-naked on the cover of a men's magazine to promote one of her films.

"I was no longer willing to subject myself to a naïve compromise that I had previously been willing to. 'I will never work in this town again?'" the actress wrote. "I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said 'no.'"

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Kunis kept her clothes on, and the unnamed movie still "made a lot of money."

More importantly, she wrote, "I did work in this town again, and again, and again."

Gender bias in the workplace is a common issue for many women, Kunis noted--and it's not limited to women in Hollywood, either. "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. We don't want to be kicked out of the sandbox for being a 'bitch," she said. "So we compromise our integrity for the sake of maintaining the status quo and hope that change is coming."

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Kunis has been working steadily since the '90s, yet little has improved. "Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender. And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boy's club," she wrote. "But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it's bulls--t! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen."

So, Kunis decided to do something about it. She formed a production company with three other women, developing TV shows "with unique voices and perspectives." They have since teamed up with producers--both male and female--"who have treated us as true equals and partners."

But not all partnerships have been positive. After Kunis' team joined forces with "an influential male producer" for a project about "inclusivity and our shared human experience," pitch e-mails were sent back and forth. One of the responses stood out: "And Mila is a mega star. One of biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton's wife and baby momma!!!'"

"This is the entirety of his email," the "Bad Moms" actress said. "Factual inaccuracies aside, he reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children. It ignored my (and my team's) significant creative and logistical contributions."

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Kunis' team withdrew its involvement in the project.

"Yes, it is only one small comment. But it's these very comments that women deal with day in and day out in offices, on calls, and in emails--microaggressions that devalue the contributions and worth of hard-working women," she wrote. 

Kunis hopes her op-ed with inspire other women to find their inner strength, too. "If this is happening to me, it is happening more aggressively to women everywhere. I am fortunate that I have reached a place that I can stop compromising and stand my ground, without fearing how I will put food on my table," the actress wrote.

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