Words Just Sound Better Out of Oprah’s Mouth

I’m writing this while watching the Golden Globes. I’m not very committed to award season events, so the first thing I had to do was figure out whether the Golden Globes and the Oscars were the same. They’re not.

That’s probably good because then more people can get trophies, which I’m told is a joyous occasion. I’ve only ever gotten one trophy and it was tiny and plastic and given to everyone on a childhood soccer team on which I was an unhelpful member for one season.

More important than the awards this year, however, was the consistent message of equity, parity, and inclusion. All the movie and television people wore black to call attention to rampant cross-industry sexual abuse and remind people of their new #TimesUp movement—meant to shine a spotlight on gender-based harassment and abuse, continue what was started by the #MeToo movement so many years ago and rebirthed recently, and set up a legal defense fund for women who don’t have the money to file suits against their abusers.

It’s also about famous people taking the reigns of an important social movement for a moment, which can feel disingenuous and ignite some defensiveness. But I don’t think it’s malicious. I don’t think they mean to appropriate and regurgitate this message. I think they feel moved. I think a lot of them have been hurt too. I think we’re all just trying to do what we can with what we have. And what they have are fancy dresses, cameras, and well-followed Instagram accounts.

It’s easy to feel jaded and dismissive of a group of powerful, privileged people claiming to champion the rights of the rest of us. It can be frustrating to rally against a beast for so long only to have a new hero, one with shiny armor and a powerful horse, show up to join the fight. But I say we embrace this for what it is and give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they were fighting another head of the same beast—a flashier one that dropped jewels on them as they fought it, but a dangerous beast all the same.

So let’s not throw shade their way. For feminism to be successful, it must be inclusive. And inclusiveness doesn’t just mean embracing those of us who are less privileged, it means embracing those of us who have more privilege—which can sometimes be even more challenging.

Plus, we all know pretty people make our words easier to hear. So, I say, let all these pretty people shout our words into the sky. They become more normalized each time they repeat them. And you never know who’s listening.

On that note, here are some words I enjoyed hearing last night:

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
-Margaret Atwood, A Handmaid’s Tale (read by Elizabeth Moss)

There’s no prerequisites to worthiness. You are born being worthy.
-Viola Davis

But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.
-Oprah Winfrey

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