Thank you, but no thank you.
To the men of Hollywood wearing black, the solidarity is appreciated. The recognition is obvious. But, what have you done to help us? The act of wearing a pin and a black outfit are a form of support and solidarity, but we need to hear you say something. Otherwise it makes the act of solidarity seem like an apathetic attempt to be trending. We need more than passive actions. And it’s that mentality that pushes heroic women to rise up and speak.
Take for instance, the #MeToo movement, which made its way into social justice history thanks to the power of fighting women. On a similar note, “Time’s Up,” a Hollywood collective of women, offered a spotlight for the issue. Here too, outspoken women within the industry said something and created a space for awareness. This action of course shouldn’t be generalized to include ALL women, since some actresses who participated also knowingly worked with abusers like Woody Allen. Yet despite the hypocrites, entertainers brought activists from Tarana Burke (founder of #MeToo) to Mónica Ramírez (an activist fighting sexual violence against farm workers) as plus ones, giving them a larger than usual platform to speak their truths.
The solidarity is necessary, and yet it is necessary to take this celebrity activism with a grain of salt. Where were the protesters in black when Harvey Weinstein was assaulting women? Where was Hollywood solidarity when Ben Affleck or Casey Affleck were doing the same? It became muted, swept clumsily under the rug while abusers continued to profit.
Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan were chastised for their fearlessness and brashness in speaking out against harassment in the industry. Mira Sorvino was completely cast out of the industry. Women like them have been talking for years, but it wasn’t until recently that they were finally heard. According to a study by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 80% of women in the workplace are victims of rape and sexual assaults. That same study states that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and financial losses are impacts of sexual violence. Sexual abuse isn’t a new phenomenon.
So why now? What makes 2017 and 2018 such pivotal moments in the fight against sexual abuse?
President Donald Trump’s election and subsequent term is perhaps the biggest reason why people are now coming out in full force.The nation’s “leader” and his “locker room” talk are examples of how sexual abuse has been treated like an immovable, cultural norm.
If one good thing has come from Trumpocalypse, it’s the forceful resistance women have led and will continue to lead against the sitting President and the toxic rhetoric he and countless other men in power continue to perpetuate.
When I began writing this piece I was enraged by the men dressed in black to show solidarity for #MeToo and Time’s Up. The fact that they’ve all been aware of such inappropriate behavior makes my stomach hurt. It’s the solidarity and recognition that counts. I’m still mad as all hell that the most a man can bother to do is wear black or tack on a pin. But, as a victim of sexual abuse I’ll take the support over ignorance.
Perhaps I should’ve watched the award show, but I couldn’t get past the lazy and often superficial activism of Hollywood actors. It felt good to hear that feminism was present during the award show. No one escaped the bottomline that abuse is rampant, but women won’t take it anymore. From the guest activists to Oprah’s speech to Debra Messing’s questioning of unequal pay and Natalie Portman’s jab at the all male best director nominees, it was the unavoidable elephant in the room. Even though, I didn’t watch the show, the unapologetic attitude of the women actors was all over social media and the news. It was about time these women in positions of influence became role models. If we want something done, we must be ready to actively fight against injustices.
So let’s continue to take a stand.