Views from the Edge
It was hard to miss the unfamiliar women at the Golden Globes awards held Sunday. They were seated up front in seats usually reserved for Hollywood’s most well-known stars.
It was in keeping with the unofficial theme of the night sparked by the #MeToo movement and the sexual harassment and misconduct that powerful men foist on women, including the entertainment industry.
The activists stood out in contrast to the glamorous stars of the motion picture and television industries because seven of the eight were women of color and the eighth was from the LGBTQ+ community, tennis legend Billie Jean King.
Among the invited activists were two Asian Americans, Ai-jen Poo and Saru Jayaraman.
Ai-jen Poo, who was invited by Meryl Streep, is the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and the co-director of Caring Across Generations. She is a strong voice for domestic worker’s rights and family care advocacy. Her leadership is credited with the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010 which gave protection to over 200,000 domestic workers in the state of New York. She also was recognized as a 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012.
Amy Poehler’s guest was Saru Jayaraman, who is the co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley. ROC has more than 18,000 worker members and has partnered with 200 employers. Her story was featured in the book The Accidental American. She has also been recognized as one of Crain’s 40 Under 40 in 2008 and New York Magazine’s Influentials of New York City. President Obama honored her as a Champion of Change in 2014.
Her book Behind the Kitchen Door was a national bestseller, and she has been a guest on numerous national news programs.
The other invited guests were Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity and founder of the #MeToo movement; Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British network of organizations working to end violence against Black and minority women; Rosa Clemente, a community organizer focused on political prisoners, voter engagement, and Puerto Rican independence; Monica Ramirez, who fights sexual violence against farmworkers and pushes for Latina empowerment; and Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer, and activist for, among other causes, Native American treaty and water rights.
Before the Golden Globe ceremonies, the women activists, representing women who don’t have the high-profile or the media platforms of their entertainment hosts, released a joint statement:
As longtime organizers, activists and advocates for racial and gender justice, it gives us enormous pride to stand with the members of the Time’s Up campaign who have stood up and spoken out in this groundbreaking historical moment. We have each dedicated our lives to doing work that supports the least visible, most marginalized women in our diverse contexts. We do this work as participants in movements that seek to affirm the dignity and humanity of every person.
Too much of the recent press attention has been focused on perpetrators and does not adequately address the systematic nature of violence including the importance of race, ethnicity and economic status in sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. Our goal in attending the Golden Globes is to shift the focus back to survivors and on systemic, lasting solutions. Each of us will be highlighting legislative, community-level and interpersonal solutions that contribute to ending violence against women in all our communities. It is our hope that in doing so, we will also help to broaden conversations about the connection to power, privilege and other systemic inequalities.
Many of us identify as survivors of sexual harassment, assault and violence ourselves and we believe we are nearing a tipping point in transforming the culture of violence in the countries where we live and work. It’s a moment to transform both the written and unwritten rules that devalue the lives and experiences of women. We believe that people of all genders and ages should live free of violence against us. And, we believe that women of color, and women who have faced generations of exclusion—Indigenous, Black, Brown and Asian women, farmworkers and domestic workers, disabled women, undocumented, and queer and trans women—should be at the center of our solutions. This moment in time calls for us to use the power of our collective voices to find solutions that leave no woman behind.
This past year was a powerful one in the fight for gender equity and against sexual violence against women—from the Women’s March to the re-emergence of “me too” as a viral hashtag that brought more than ten years of survivor-centered work to the mainstream. There is still much work to do, and many hands required to do it. We want to encourage all women—from those who live in the shadows to those who live in the spotlight, from all walks of life, and across generations—to continue to step forward and know that they will be supported when they do.
The #TimesUp initiative joins an ever-growing collective of organizations, movements, and leaders working to end gender-based violence. We look forward to partnering with them and others to organize, support all survivors, and find solutions that ensure a future where all women and all people can live and work with dignity.
Recognition of minorities is still a hurdle the entertainment industries need to tackle. The evening underlined that situation with only four awards given to people of color: Aziz Ansari for his acting in Master of None, Guillermo del Toro for directing The Shape of Water, Sterling K. Brown for his role in This Is Us, and the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille award, Oprah Winfrey, whose rousing acceptance speech was a rallying cry to end sexual harassment and abuse.
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