On the 7th of January 2018, the Golden Globes took place in the United States. In attendance were hundreds of famous, and famous-adjacent, people, dressed in black as they participated in the Time’s Up initiative.
This bothered me a lot. The fact that someone can wear a black outfit (that they probably didn’t pay for) for one night, to a highly publicised event, and present themselves as being in support of victims of sexual assault (even if they have done, literally, nothing else to support them) is absurd.
I have no doubt in my mind that if the men who have sexually harassed and assaulted me were invited to the Golden Globes this year, they all would have worn black. If someone had asked them about their choice in dress, they would have proudly spoken about their mothers and daughters and sister and aunts and grandmothers and female cousins… who have changed their perspective on how women should be treated, and taught them that sexual harassment is, like, really bad.
I wonder how many of the people at the Golden Globes voted for the United States’ current president, knowing his past regarding sexual misconduct. How many of them have witnessed or known about sexually inappropriate behaviour perpetrated by their friends, and have done nothing about it? How many of them have sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped someone?
This brings me to Justin Timberlake, who wonderfully illustrated this hypocrisy and performative ally-ship.
The above picture isn’t in and of itself an issue. It shows that Justin, and his wife, dressed in black, and with “#TIMESUP #whywewearblack” in the caption. However, Justin is also currently starring in a new film by Woody Allen. The same Woody Allen who has had numerous sexual harassment and assault allegations made against him for decades. Yes, the same Woody Allen who is believed to have molested his adopted daughter, and married his other adopted daughter.
At this point, I feel that wearing a pin, a little rainbow flag, or a black outfit once – or even every day of the year – is so utterly useless and self-congratulatory in the grand scheme of things. I get that it makes us feel like good people, and a simple display of support is definitely better than nothing, but what would be so much more helpful would be supporting people and organisations that support those who have experienced sexual assault with our time and money. Educating our children about boundaries and respect.
Men: instead of telling everyone how much of a “nice guy” you are, actually talk to your male friends, family members, peers, students…. whoever. Call them out for their offensive language and behaviour.
Why should men speak up?
Although there has been a general upward trend in the number of female prisoners in custody for sexual offences, it remains very low and is a very small proportion of the overall female prison population (2 percent)… Almost all (99 per cent) of those offenders supervised by the Probation Service under community orders or SSOs for sexual offences are male.
More males commit sexual assault than females, and males are not always ready and willing to change their behaviour because of something a woman or girl has said, especially if the other males in their lives do not question that behaviour as well.
These celebrities wearing black means nothing to me. I would be more impressed if each of those people, in their respective positions of privilege and financial security, did something that takes real bravery, the kind of bravery it took for all of the people who have come forward with their experiences to propagate such a movement in the first place.
That being said, Michelle Williams, and a number of other actresses attending the event did bring activists as their dates, such as Tarana Burke (the founder of the #MeToo movement).
Not all of those who attended the Golden Globes wore black. For whatever reasons, German model Barbara Meier, Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Meher Tatna and actress Blanca Blanc chose to wear dresses that were not black.
And me? I wouldn’t have worn black either.
Jasmine Tendaupenyu is a Civil Engineering student at Newcastle University who likes baked goods and intersectional feminism.