This year’s Golden Globes was the first major awards show to take place in a new world.
Women are no longer automatically being shamed into silence. They’re speaking out against sexual assault, harassment and inequality. It’s a world in which #MeToo and #TimesUp are unifying battle cries, and the Globes offered an important platform to share those messages far and wide.
Attendees mostly donned black to protest against sexual misconduct across industries, and many stars were wearing black-and-white Time’s Up pins to promote the initiative meant to give equal representation to sexual harassment and assault survivors across all industries.
Red carpet banter was quite different, too. Laura Dern, Debra Messing, Eva Longoria and Reese Witherspoon all called out E! — while being interviewed on E! — for allegedly underpaying former “E! News” co-host Catt Sadler, who quit the network in December. According to Sadler, she had recently learned that her male co-host was earning double her salary.
Female winners like Dern, Nicole Kidman and Elisabeth Moss mentioned the power of women and how women can effect change.
“This character that I played represents something that is the center of our conversation right now: abuse,” Kidman said in her acceptance speech for her role as Celeste Wright, a woman in an abusive marriage, in HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” “I do believe and I hope that we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them.”
Men, on the other hand, were noticeably silent: None of the male winners directly referenced either #MeToo or the Time’s Up initiative in their on-stage acceptance speeches.
Perhaps most notably, Kidman’s “Big Little Lies” co-star, Alexander Skarsgård, failed to mention domestic abuse or sexual violence in his speech. He, of course, had won the award for his portrayal of Perry Wright, an abusive spouse who brutally terrorizes his wife.
While many men wore black and Time’s Up pins in solidarity, their end of the dialogue pretty much stopped there. Seth Meyers’ opening monologue was a welcome exception — he kicked off the evening by quipping, “Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen.” He also called out alleged serial sexual harassers Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen by name.
But beyond Meyers, men oddly didn’t have anything to say about this unique — and long overdue — cultural reckoning. So what, exactly, should men have said at the Golden Globes? Here are a few ideas:
Imagine how powerful it would have been to hear a man say those words at the podium. Much of the strife that survivors of sexual assault and harassment face stems from the frustration of not being believed. If no one believes you, you become less likely to share your story, and any kind of justice becomes that much more out of reach.
The all-black suits and pins were the bare minimum. Speaking out against men in positions of power has historically been a career-ender and an extremely lonely undertaking for women. That’s changing in the era of #MeToo, but men need to be vocal allies who aren’t afraid to call out abuse, harassment and inequality when they see it — even if it means alienating some of their male peers along the way.
The burden almost always falls on the victim to prove that they experienced wrongdoing. When that burden is coupled with the trauma of being a survivor, it can feel downright insurmountable. Men can help ease that burden by donating to causes and initiatives that empower survivors to seek justice, despite the odds being stacked against them. And better yet, they can encourage everyone in their networks to do the same.
Before presenting the award for best director, Natalie Portman took a moment to highlight the glaring lack of diversity in the category: Not a single woman was nominated. “And here are the all male nominees,” she said.
While the evening saw some big wins for women and female-led productions, Hollywood is far from a level playing field. Considering how much of the industry is still run by men, men can recognize their positions of privilege and authority and use it to amplify the voices of women and others in marginalized communities.