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The Women of Hollywood’s #TimesUp Movement Are Smart to Partner With Activists. The Golden Globes Shouldn’t Be the End of That


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At this year’s Golden Globes, a number of celebrities brought activists as their plus-ones. It was a way to highlight the fact that sexual harassment and assault aren’t just Hollywood problems, as well as a way to celebrate some extraordinary women who work to fight for gender equality in all its forms.

Those women were treated with varying degrees of respect. Some gave brief red carpet interviews. On the network I watched, their celebrity dates mostly spoke for and about them, praising their work. This moment in particular got a lot of attention for sidelining Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement.

One of these women, Ai-jen Poo, has written an essay for Cosmopolitan detailing the work she does as the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). And yes, she also fans out over being Meryl Streep’s plus-one.

“I had not personally met Meryl Streep before I checked my voicemail and heard her soft voice, familiar from so many of my favorite films, introducing herself,” Poo writes. “There she was, asking to discuss the possibility of attending the Golden Globes together. Yes, Ms. Streep, we can definitely discuss that.”

At the NDWA, Poo fights for the rights of domestic workers.

There are more than 2.5 million women in the United States who make it possible for us to us do what we do every day, knowing that our loved ones and homes are in good hands. Many of them are immigrants and women of color. And while they care for what is most precious to us, they are deeply undervalued and vulnerable to abuse, in large part because domestic workers, along with farm workers, aren’t adequately protected under decades-old (and historically racist) labor laws.

She describes the ties that bind the women fighting against their own systemic devaluing in Hollywood, and women in every industry, all across the country and around the world.

My work at the Alliance has included fighting against sexual harassment and assault of domestic workers. So when 300 prominent women in Hollywood formed Time’s Up, inspired by the #MeToo movement and the letter of solidarity they received from Latina farmworkers, I knew that something big was happening. The tone had shifted from shock to determination, and women were reaching out to find their allies.

On Sunday night, the fight against sexual violence expanded. The focus shifted away from the abusers to the survivors and the solidarity among women across industries, across economic strata, and across communities. The exchange between us helped us understand how we could create not only a moment, but a movement with space and a role for every woman, where every survivor could feel supported.

She also describes how Oprah’s powerful speech brought focus to those connections between women, that “when Oprah named the domestic workers, farm workers, factory workers, and restaurant workers, she shared her stage with the millions of women and people who are underpaid, undervalued, and forced to tolerate harassment and abuse because they have, as Oprah said, ‘children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.'”

Poo writes,

In the work of organizing we always say that a victory isn’t a victory if no one feels it’s theirs. And if you want change, you have to first envision it, and then name it to summon it into existence. We want women — all people — to have dignified and safe workplaces. When women’s workplaces are dignified, we see laws that include protections for everyone — no loopholes, no exclusions. When women’s workplaces are dignified, we see women have safe and accessible ways to report harassment, where they are believed and their abusers are held accountable. When we all have dignified work, women won’t have to choose between paying rent and their own personal safety.

Bringing these activists to an event like the Golden Globes was a strong move. The women of Hollywood have had such a spotlight shone on the rot affecting their industry; other women deserve that same degree of attention.

But just as these activists and their organizations benefit from the exposure of an event like this, the women of Hollywood benefit, too. Mónica Ramírez, who co-founded the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and attended the Golden Globes with Laura Dern, told BuzzFeed, “They are trying to learn from us.” Hollywood may be getting attention, but they need guidance and partnerships like these to make lasting change.

As Ramírez says, “We are leaders on this. We’ve been paving the way on this work for a long time. We offered our support to them to help work with them, to think through what a strategy could look like.”

We’ve been hearing it repeated often lately that this is not a moment, it’s a movement. That’s more than just a slogan (or a Hamilton lyric). Tarana Burke has spoken about the small, grassroots movements she sees happening all across the country. With events like the Golden Globes, we’re seeing the power that can come from partnerships forming between those groups. Activism wasn’t just front and center for one night at an awards show. These women were not temporary, token arm candy. They are dedicated activists doing essential work, and hopefully, those partnerships only grow stronger over time.

(featured image: GoFundMe)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.