The sexual assault revolution in Hollywood is still in full effect since the numerous revelations regarding Weinstein first broke in October and the Golden Globes was no exception. The annual award show was chalked with compelling advocacy and controversy. This year the theme was throwing shade to the patriarchal norms that are ingrained so deeply in our culture that they often go unnoticed. The Times Up initiative, a call for change to end the systemic inequity in the workplace was a large focus at this year’s Golden Globes.
The vow for women to wear black clothing in solidarity was a criticized movement for being too silent and subdued. Some felt that those wearing black clothing, but not speaking out against the perpetrators of Hollywood, were hypocritical. Post-Golden Globes the women in black weren’t the ones revealed as hypocritical or transparent. Instead, James Franco and Aziz Ansari were thrown into the spotlight after the award show for wearing Times Up pins, and then being revealed as perpetrators of sexual misconduct themselves by several women. Finally, after an eternity of women being pitted against each other, being accused of not being loud enough, being too loud, or stealing the show with their cause, it was men being held accountable for their actions.
James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by five women. In four cases the women were his students and the fifth claims he was her mentor. These women looked up to Franco for career advancement and opportunities to star in his films. These claims reveal how he took advantage of his female students. Actress Violet Paley claimed that while the two were having a discussion in her car he took his penis out and nudged her head towards it. Paley says that she “didn’t want him to hate me” so she obliged. Furthermore, Franco is accused of throwing tantrums on set asking women to take their shirts off, sending auditions that involved nudity to his female students and removing plastic guards covering the women’s vaginas while filming an oral sex scene.
Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by one woman who identified herself as “Grace.” Her story illustrated a vital truth about the coercion women often experience when men don’t take no for an answer; ignoring verbal and non-verbal cues and continuously violating their bodies. Saying “no” and acting uninterested in sexual activity is rarely seen as a final answer but instead as a mind to change or game to play. This is promoted in popular culture through films, shows, books and within song lyrics. In How I Met Your Mother, character Barney Stinson is responsible for many of the punchlines in which he is coercing, lying and violating women to have sex with them. Consent is rarely obtained, and sex often occurs under false pretences. The “persistent suitor” trope is often rewarded for their behaviour and not condemned. Men who won’t take no for an answer are seen as resilient and are rewarded for their refusal to accept an answer that they do not want to hear. Meanwhile, a women’s autonomy is constantly contested and questioned but never accepted. Women’s answers are constantly challenged and “no” is rarely seen with finality. The idea that a women’s mind is changeable, that they will want sex if you keep trying, is a socially constructed fallacy. The truth is if you keep trying, women will feel coerced, forced, powerless and scared; sexual activity under these conditions is not consensual. Convincing someone to participate in a sexual act should never occur but is normalized in today’s society. All accusations of sexual assault and misconduct are important and reveal another layer of the patriarchal abuse women experience.
From the black clothing, pointed jokes and inspirational speeches, the Golden Globes took a turn for the best this year. The facade of the awards appeared to present a much-needed makeover that became about shaming the predators and praising the right people. The sexual assault revolution is not a silent movement and despite concerns that women would wear black and not speak out, women ended up being louder than ever at the Golden Globes. As Oprah Winfrey said in her speech receiving the Cecil B DeMille Award, “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”
By Emily Colero
Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.