Editor’s Note: Roxanne Jones, a founding editor of ESPN Magazine and former vice president at ESPN, has worked as a producer, reporter and editor at the New York Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Jones is co-author of “Say it Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete.” She talks politics, sports and culture weekly on Philadelphia’s Praise 107.9FM. The views expressed here are solely hers.
Thank goodness for Oprah Winfrey. She saved the show.
Winfrey, who was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her outstanding contributions in entertainment, at the 75th annual Golden Globes show, turned the night into more than a clichéd fashion statement against sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood.
Commanding the stage with her rare brand of authenticity, she reached into the hearts of women and girls around the world, from domestic workers and farmers to corporate climbers and Hollywood starlets, and told us: I’m listening; you are not alone.
Host Seth Meyers jokingly the idea of Oprah running for president in 2020. And after her powerful speech last night, many are taking that idea more seriously. Though, I’m not convinced Oprah’s power and intellect would be best used in the White House.
Oprah knows our pain. She’s heard our stories of sexual abuse and discrimination. We have inspired her, she said.
“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. I’m especially proud and inspired by all the woman who felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories.” she said, thanking women every where who dared to stand up and say #MeToo.
And just as important, Winfrey recognized those women who never quite found the courage to speak out loud because they had families to raise or dreams to chase.
Looking into the camera, shaking her fist, you couldn’t help but believe Oprah when she told all those the men who who brutalize and harass women that, “their time is up.” A girl couldn’t help but puff up and feel just a bit more courageous.
It was a beautiful TV moment and just what the Globes needed as the show, which promised protest, dragged on, despite Seth Meyers’ heroic efforts as the host to keep it exciting.
When the casting call went out for Hollywood’s women to wear all black at the Golden Globes awards show to show to solidarity with all the women – and men – who have been exposed the rampant sexual harassment that pervades the industry, it’s clear everyone got the message. Nary a woman, or man, dared show up in anything but black head-to-toe high fashion.
If only eradicating misogyny were as simple as a wardrobe change.
We know better. It will take more than a fashion statement to change the culture of abuse and harassment that working women face – from Hollywood to the White House.
But the Golden Globes protest should get praise for pushing this #MeToo conversation forward. And it was refreshing to hear substantive red carpet conversation and interviews with women like Billie Jean King and #MeToo founder and activist Tarana Burke – who were special guests, invited to highlight women’s equality.
Because while it’s critical that we keep finding our voices, we also need to move past victimhood and mobilize to develop mechanisms to ensure our abusers are held accountable. It’s time to address the imbalance of power in the workplace and help develop more women leaders.
Time’s Up, a new initiative launched by Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Traci Ross, Meryl Streep, Eva Longoria and scores of other industry leaders, shifts the #MeToo conversation into action. And last night Hollywood successfully used the fashion protest to pivot the discussion to focus on this inspiring campaign, which was started to addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential.
#TimesUp has reportedly raised a more than $15 million Legal Defense Fund to help women across blue-collar industries fight sexual harassment, abuse and systemic inequality in the workplace.
Still, it was clear from the acceptance speeches last night there are more than a few men who aren’t quite comfortable with all the women’s empowerment talk. Not many men used their acceptance speeches to advocate for telling more women’s stories or call out Hollywood for its mistreatment of women.
Nope. That task was left to the women in the room and they handled it well. The last presenter, Barbra Streisand, who was the only women ever to win a Golden Globe for Best Director back in 1984 for Yentil, shook her head lamenting that stat. “Thirty years ago … Folks, times up.” she said on cue as the show came to a close.
Only time will tell if the men in the room got the message.