It all started with the outing of Harvey Weinstein, but some remarkable women made sure that wouldn’t be the end.
Since October, when more than 80 women came forward accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, a remarkably disgusting number of public figures have also been outed for sexual harassment and assault, the overwhelming majority of them being men.
Despite the fact that it made every headline, this was not news – not to women, at least. This was simply a stating of the truth that women have known and lived with their entire lives. Nonetheless, damn it felt good to finally see men face some actual ramifications for their actions, even if they weren’t legal ones.
Last night at the Golden Globes, the women and men of Hollywood continued this movement by standing in solidarity with the victims who came forward and accused their attackers by wearing black. With little pins declaring “times up” on the lapels of many suits, these actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, and various elites were making the statement that Hollywood will no longer put up with harassment and assault of any kind. It was bold. It was needed.
There are many out there who will call out the men and women in that room for not taking a stand earlier. Why did people who knew about Weinstein not tell the truth sooner? Why have they continued to stand by Woody Allen? Why are they not outing the other perpetrators in that room?
I cannot answer those questions for you. I can only guess that, as is the case in many career paths and situations, most of them felt unable to speak someone else’s truth, scared that it might end their careers without ever bringing justice for the victims. Or maybe they just didn’t really care all that much, but I’m not one for such black and white interpretations.
It was wrong for them not to take a public stand sooner, but then again, this issue is one that should have been taken on more strongly thousands of years before the people in that room were even born. Sexism, harassment, and sexual assault are issues which, as Oprah reminded us, transcend all barriers of race, religion, nationality, and time. They are perhaps some of the few cultural traits that the entire world shares. Because that’s what this is, it’s a culture, our culture. It’s a culture as old as time. It’s a culture of being attacked, of being relieved when it’s not you, and of biting your tongue. It’s how we were all taught.
But if any part of the messages from the Golden Globes sticks, let it be that this is the end of biting our tongues. For all victims of abuse, harassment, assault, and discrimination around the world, and for the allies who stand with them, let it be the end of staying quiet.
There was nothing quiet about the Golden Globes this year. What was really striking was that Time’s Up, despite coming out of the #MeToo movement about sexual harassment and assault, was not just about speaking up for those issues, but about speaking up for intersectional feminist issues alike.
It was Barbra Streisand pointing out that she is the only woman to have ever won in the best director category; it was Eva Longoria declaring “it’s a movement, not a moment;” it was Connie Britton proudly wearing a shirt with the words “poverty is sexist” embroidered across the front; it was Debra Messing calling out E! on their sexist pay gap; and it was Oprah, with an elegance and grace I have never seen given to a battlecry as powerful as hers, calling for solidarity with women everywhere, in all industries, to move forward into this new dawn.
Maybe the country changed with Weinstein. Maybe it changed with the Women’s March. Maybe it hasn’t changed at all. Does Cinderella still have to go back to her life of chores and emotional abuse at midnight, or does she get to keep having fun at the ball without worrying about Prince Charming groping her on the dance floor?
The fact of the matter is, for women who are actually pre-prince Cinderellas (aka women who didn’t and will never get invited to the Golden Globes), this night will not change our lives, at least not immediately. While perpetrators in the public gaze can be ostracized by society, our real-life demons – our abusive husbands and perverted bosses, and the men who follow us down the street – will see no ramifications from this movement.
Time’s Up is not intended to be one night, I know that. It is an organization made up of remarkable women of all colours and backgrounds who want to fund legal help for victims of discrimination. But they cannot possibly help us all.
We need better court systems. We need more women in politics. We need the men in our lives to believe us. That’s where tonight can make a difference; there were many men in that room standing up for the rights of women to be equal. That’s not to say that they all believed what they were standing up for, or even that they themselves have never harassed or assaulted women before, just that they were, in fact, there.
If anything, it shows that they have learned that this is not a trend, not something that is going away. It is here and it is real and it is being helmed by their colleagues and their audience, both of whom make their careers. If the average man can see that statement, can see these men who are worth millions of dollars stand in solidarity with their female colleagues, maybe they can find it in their hearts or brains or whatever to have solidarity with the women in their own lives. To not apply the mantra ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to accused perpetrators while using the opposite stance with the victims accusing them.
While I don’t believe that this nice will change our lives immediately, I do believe that the spreading of this mentality can and will have a trickle-down effect. Change is not created overnight, but it has to start somewhere.
At the very least, maybe the men in Hollywood will think twice about what their definition of consent is before they force themselves on women.
I take that back. At the very, very least, we got this amazing speech from Oprah, which is nothing but impeccable words to live by. Tonight was the start of an uphill battle; let this be our battle cry.