Actors may have worn #TimesUp pins at the Golden Globes, but that doesn't mean they're off the hook
While red carpet coverage played from the TV in my bedroom, I stood in my closet picking out something black to wear for the Golden Globes. My look certainly didn’t take a team of people to put together, but it was as symbolic as any black gown worn by Hollywood’s leading women last night. We all wore black to symbolize our unity as we took a stand against abusers and sexual predators in the workplace.
As the cameras panned across the audience of black-clad guests, I couldn’t help but feel proud of the solidarity on display at the awards show this year. Not only were attendees dressed in their best black, but many of Hollywood’s biggest names brought feminist leaders from all walks of life to the event. However, as I continued watching Seth Meyers’s monologue, I found that I couldn’t laugh along with the audience.
Meyers’s many jokes about the expulsion of sexual predators in Hollywood felt self-congratulatory to me — as if the men in attendance wearing black suits with #TimesUp pins on their lapels automatically proved their innocence and advocacy.
But the sad truth is that at least 65% of sexual assault cases go unreported.
With a statistic as staggering as this, there’s no doubt that — among the actors and actresses dressed all in black and wearing #TimesUp pins — there were sexual predators present and passing themselves off as supporters.
Though we should definitely celebrate our victories when it comes to holding men accountable for their abuses, we should also address this serious concern. Now that so many of us — in Hollywood and elsewhere — have taken a stand to no longer allow toxic behavior, predators can easily play along and pretend to be outraged. And in doing so, they can hide in plain sight.
But this isn’t just an assumption that I’m making — we saw it on stage tonight. Gary Oldman won an award for Best Actor in a Drama for Darkest Hour, and he has been accused of domestic violence. Kirk Douglas, who was honored on stage while presenting the award for Best Screenplay, has been accused of raping late actress Natalie Wood.
And while dressed in black and sporting a #TimesUp pin, James Franco won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for The Disaster Artist. In case you have forgotten, three and a half years ago, James Franco was caught hitting on a teenage girl on Instagram.
The actor played it off as the perils of online dating and the public forgave him. He didn’t lose his career or have his films boycotted. Franco was allowed to continue working in Hollywood — a luxury not allowed to victims of sexual assault and harassment who were forced out of the industry or blacklisted by their predators. While she didn’t accuse Franco of any specific actions, actress Ally Sheedy began tweeting about Franco after his Golden Globes win, alluding to some kind of inappropriate behavior and using the hashtag #MeToo. (Her tweets have since been deleted.)
By acknowledging Franco’s past and his presence at the Golden Globes, we should also be aware that he isn’t the only man who has probably crossed the line. And if there are predators masquerading as supporters at these ceremonies, there are also victims being forced to put on a brave face and endure their pain.
I used to be a part of the corporate grind where management was a boy’s club. I was usually the only female leader, and I often had to mediate workplace disagreements. Every once in a while, there would be an issue that warranted sensitivity training to remind employees of the legal ramifications of sexual harassment.
Behavior would improve for a few weeks after the training, but the improvements never lasted. There’d be more trainings (sometimes complete with disciplinary action), and then there would be good behavior again — until there wasn’t. And the cycle would repeat over and over in a never ending loop.
And I fear that’s where we are today.
Men have to do more. More than wearing one pin at one event. More than wearing the same black suit they would have worn regardless of the movement. More than making jokes about Harvey Weinstein and the other morally corrupt men who spurred #MeToo and #TimesUp. They have to continue to hold each other accountable.
They have to put in the work and be instruments for change. Only then can they pat themselves on the back and say they helped us improve anything. And until women no longer need to protest being violated, awards show hosts can keep their jokes because, from where I’m standing, it just doesn’t feel funny.