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 s 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 supportive moment of the night, though, was Oprah’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Winfrey, who is the first black woman to receive that award, used this platform to highlight important issues related to both the #MeToo movement and her own experiences as a black woman. Oprah first did this by speaking about the personal impact of watching Sidney Poitier claim his Oscar for Best Actor 1964 as the first black man to do so.
“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. 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 said of Poitier. “…and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award,” she continued. The way Oprah incorporated the theme of intersectionality so seamlessly into her discussion of the ‘Time’s Up’ campaign shows just how relevant intersectionality must be in order to successfully promote any real change in the movement, and in any other political movement for that matter.
She then moved on to speak about Recy Taylor, a black woman sexually assaulted by six white men in Jim Crow Alabama, who died just over a week ago. Taylor never received justice for those wrongdoings, as is the case with many women who report sexual assault. Essentially, the whole idea behind the ‘Time’s Up’ movement is to put a stamp on the power that men hold over the systematic power structure and, in turn, victims of sexual assault. If there were people who doubted this previously, Winfrey’s moving use of anecdote should’ve almost certainly convinced them that something needs to change.
“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!”
But Winfrey still acknowledged “some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too,’ again.”
Despite overwhelming support for Winfrey’s speech, however, some viewed it as hypocritical given the media mogul’s past of supporting 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 misconduct. For example, British singer and songwriter Seal criticised Winfrey. “Oh I forgot, that’s right….you’d heard the rumours but you had no idea he was actually serially assaulting young stary-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”.
However outside of these allegations, Winfrey’s speech has still been widely praised. Perhaps Oprah should’ve addressed this matter directly within the speech—it certainly could’ve prevented any accusations of hypocrisy in its aftermath. But with the overall message behind the speech being so relatable to every woman who has ever been victimised by a man; with its political characteristics and enthusing literary structure, it brings vivacious attention to the whole reason attendees wore black to the event in the first place. It put emphasis on the importance of the #MeToo movement and its protest and the attitude of those involved; encouraged people to listen—even those who may typically be reluctant to do so—and was a true reflection of just how tired women are.