So the women of Hollywood came out at the Golden Globes on Sunday night and used their soapboxes to say powerful things about how sexual harassment and unequal pay would no longer be tolerated, nor would the sidelining of women’s stories and women creators, and just generally sounded off about the lousy positions of girls and women not only in their industry but everywhere. And they vowed to work for change and betterment for everyone.
And the men? As Sophie Gilbert at The Atlantic tells it:
Accepting their awards, they thanked their mothers, their wives (in one case their wives and their girlfriends), their agents, the nation of Italy for its great food. The composer Alexandre Desplat observed that this award was a different color to the previous one he’d claimed. But, facing a sea of women wearing black, not one of the dozen-plus men who received an award seemed compelled to note that anything about the night was different.
Publicists and agents guiding male clients through this unusual awards season said it was highly likely that some of the men were terrified of making missteps on the world’s stage.
When every word men utter about Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement is pored over, parsed and often harshly criticized, silence is often the best option…
Silence would, in fact, have been a very powerful message for men to send in an industry where their voices regularly drown out women’s. Imagine if all the male winners said nothing more than a simple “thank you”! But the men were not silent. They blathered ordinary award-show blather like the Other Thing going on had nothing to do with them. Or maybe they thought they’d been transported to a parallel universe where nothing had changed. Except when Natalie Portman pointed out that all the nominees for best director were men. Then they all looked embarrassed, or annoyed, as if it were their fault they’d benefitted from endemic and entrenched biases in their favor all these years.
I know that it’s difficult for men to not always be the center of attention, and impossible for them to imagine taking a stance that might sideline their awesomeness. And yet with just a few minutes thought I was able to come up with a bunch of ways that they could have acknowledged their complicity in problems they helped to create, committed to helping to fix inequalities that have worked to their advantage, and promised to make room for talented women in the future. Which is probably why nothing like this got said.
But still! A few suggestions:
• “I’m listening.”
• “I’m sorry I didn’t notice what was happening.”
• “I’m sorry I didn’t do more to stop what I saw happening.”
• “I pledge not to work with men who don’t respect women.”
• “I pledge to work with three women screenwriters and three women directors in the next two years.”
• “I pledge to no longer demand that my romantic female co-leads are young enough to be my daughter, or granddaughter.” [for actors]
• “I pledge to accept a role as a saintly and long-suffering man supporting a brilliant but flawed female lead in the next year.” [for actors]
• “I will ensure that my female characters get as much dialogue as my male characters, and that they are as complex and complicated as the men.” [for writers]
• “I will ensure that the women I cast in my films are paid fairly for the star power and experience they bring.” [for directors]
• “Tell me who hurt you and I’ll fuck him up. The body will never be found and I will take no credit for my actions.”
These will all work at the Oscars too! Feel free to steal ’em, guys.