In commemoration of the first anniversary of Women’s March movement, Hollywood stars have come out the address the issue of sexual misconduct in the industry.
Since last year’s Women’s March, revelations about abuse by powerful men in Hollywood have fuelled a national reckoning on the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct.
Several women who have been publicly involved in the Time’s Up movement – a movement which supports women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment in various industries- delivered speeches at events in Los Angeles.
Actress, Viola Davis spoke about how she is “always introduced as an award-winning actor. But my testimony is one of poverty. My testimony is one of being sexually assaulted and very much seeing a childhood that was robbed from me.”
Natalie Portman described how she had to adjust her behaviour to the environment of “sexual terrorism” she encountered as a 13-year-old.
Scarlett Johansson publicly called out James Franco, who has been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour by several women, when she said “my mind baffles, how could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support to victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?”
She added, referring to the Time’s Up pin Franco wore at the 2018 Golden Globes, “I want my pin back, by the way.”
While Johansson didn’t mention Franco by name, the comments were aimed at him, her representative confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
According to CNN, actress Eva Longoria said, “This march and this movement is far more ambitious in scope and scale, and it extends beyond one political actor or even one political party.”
“What we’re calling for is sustainable and systematic change to the experience of women and girls in America. A change from fear and intimidation to respect. From pain and humiliation to safety and dignity. From marginalization to equal pay and representation.”
Olivia Munn, who has publicly accused director Brett Ratner of sexual misconduct, asked the crowd to “be the team member of every woman in your life,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Refrain from judgment. Be the rock of understanding. Be the well of empathy.
“We all have the power to make sure that our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, great-granddaughters grow up with the mentality that if you come for one of us — you come for all of us.”
Read excerpt from Viola Davis speech below:
“One out of every five women will be sexually assaulted and raped before she reaches the age of 18. One out of six boys. If you are a woman of colour and you are raped before you reach the age of 18, then you are 66 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted again. Seventy percent of girls who are sex-trafficked are girls of colour. They are coming out of the foster-care system, they are coming out of poverty. It is a billion-dollar industry. When they go into the sex-trafficking business — and they call it a business, trust me — more than likely, they are gang raped.
I am speaking today not just for the “Me Too’s” because, I was a “Me Too,” but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence. The women who are faceless. The women who don’t have the money and don’t have the constitution and who don’t have the confidence and who don’t have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self-worth enough to break their silence that’s rooted in the shame of assault. That’s rooted in the stigma of assault.
Listen, I am always introduced as an award-winning actor. But my testimony is one of poverty. My testimony is one of being sexually assaulted and very much seeing a childhood that was robbed from me. And I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence. That’s what allows me to even become a citizen on this planet, is the fact that we are here to connect. That we are as 324 million people living on this earth, to know that every day, we breathe and we live. That we got to bring up everyone with us.
I stand in solidarity of all women who raise their hands because I know that it was not easy. And my hope for the future – my hope, I do hope – is that we never go back. That it’s not just about clapping your hands and screaming and shouting every time someone says something that sounds good. It’s about keeping it rolling once you go home.”
Excerpt from Natalie Portman’s speech:
“I turned 12 on the set of my first film, ‘The Professional,” in which I played a young girl who befriends a hit man and hopes to avenge the murder of her family. The character is simultaneously discovering and developing her womanhood, her voice and her desire. At that moment in my life, I, too, was discovering my own womanhood, my own desire and my own voice. I was so excited at 13 when the film was released and my work and my art would have a human response. I excitedly opened my first fan-mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me. A countdown was started on my local radio station to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my “budding breasts” in reviews.
I understood very quickly even as a 13-year-old, if I were to express myself sexually, that I would feel unsafe, and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body, to my great discomfort. So I quickly adjusted my behaviour. I rejected any role that even had a kissing scene, and talked about that choice deliberately in interviews. I emphasized how bookish I was and how serious I was, and I cultivated an elegant way of dressing. I built a reputation for basically being prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious in an attempt to feel that my body was safe and my voice would be listened to. At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me. I felt the need to cover my body and inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world, that I’m someone worthy of safety and respect.
The response to my expression, from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements, served to control my behaviour through an environment of sexual terrorism. A world in which I could wear whatever I want, say whatever I want and express my desire however I want without fearing for my physical safety or reputation, that would be the world in which female desire and sexuality could have its greatest expression and fulfilment. That world that we want to build is the opposite of puritanical.
So I’d like to propose one way to continue moving this revolution forward. Let’s declare loud and clear that this is what I want. This is what I need. This is what I desire. This is how you can help me achieve pleasure. To people of all genders here today, let’s find a space where we mutually, consensually, look out for each other’s pleasure, and allow the vast, limitless range of desire to be expressed. Let’s make a revolution of desire.”
Excerpt from Scarlett Johansson’s speech:
“In light of the recent revelations of abuse of power and sexual harassment and the question of consent over coercion, I find myself pensive, taking time and digging deep to understand where we are and how we got here. My mind baffles, how could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support to victims of sexual assault, while privately preying on people who have no power? I want my pin back, by the way.
How is it okay for someone in a position of power to use that power to take advantage of someone in a lesser position? Just because you can, does that ever make it okay? If a person isn’t saying yes, but they aren’t saying no, how can anyone feel justified to make that decision for them?”