Oprah’s Golden Globes speech perfectly explained why “Time’s Up”
The 75th anniversary of the Golden Globes was a feminist extravaganza. After more than 300 female celebrities — including Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, and America Ferrera — announced the launch of a network and legal defense fund to support victims of sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace called Time’s Up, celebrities like Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Zac Efron, and Dwayne Johnson sported black attire to show their support for and solidarity with the movement. Some female attendees also chose to ditch their normal dates for activists: Amy Poehler, Michelle Williams, and Emma Watson brought activists like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Marai Larasi, and Billie Jean King.
But perhaps the most notable moment of the night was Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement. Winfrey, who is the first black woman to receive the award, used this platform to highlight important issues related to both the #MeToo movement and her own experiences as a black woman.
Oprah opened her speech by recalling how watching Sidney Poitier claim his Oscar for Best Actor in 1964, becoming the first black man to do so, affected her.
“I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black, and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” Winfrey said. “I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people's houses.”
Winfrey noted that she felt she was continuing that legacy, because “there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.”
Winfrey then spoke about Recy Taylor, a black woman who was sexually assaulted by six white men in Jim Crow-era Alabama. Taylor, who died just over a week ago, never received justice for those wrongdoings, as is the case for many women who report sexual assault.
“She lived as we all have lived — too many years in a culture broken my brutally powerful men,” Winfrey said of Recy Taylor. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.” Then she repeated, rather rousingly: “Their time is up!”
Despite overwhelming support for Winfrey’s speech, some viewed it as hypocritical given the media mogul’s past support of men who have since been discredited for the very offenses her speech rallied against. Most notably, Winfrey has been associated with Harvey Weinstein and takes credit for launching the career of celebrity psychologist Phil McGraw, who has faced numerous lawsuits and allegations of unethical conduct. British singer and songwriter Seal even went so far as to call out Oprah on Instagram. “Oh I forgot, that's right...you'd heard the rumours but you had no idea he was actually serially assaulting young starry-eyed actresses who in turn had no idea what they were getting into,” the performer wrote on Instagram about Winfrey’s relationship with Weinstein. “My bad. #SanctimoniousHollywood”.
Perhaps Oprah should’ve addressed her support of these men more directly within the speech. But ultimately, the overall message of her speech was incredibly relatable to every listener who has ever felt sexually victimized. Her speech brought attention to the reason attendees wore black to the event in the first place: to show solidarity for a movement that aims to stamp out the power men in Hollywood have had over so many women. It put emphasis on the importance of the #MeToo movement and encouraged people to listen — even those who may typically be reluctant to do so.
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