Use your platform

Men at the Golden Globes pass up an opportunity to speak on the #metoo movement


Paul Drinkwater | AP

Silence is a lot of things.  But in the case of last Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, silence was anything but golden.

For the men of Hollywood, it was their first chance to denounce a dark secret that had finally been unearthed.  Harvey Weinstein, Russell Simmons, Louis C.K. and so many others had used their status to sexually harass, humiliate, and assault hundreds of women throughout their careers.

Yet despite wearing all black, and promptly displaying their “Time’s Up” pins, not a single male winner from the 75th Golden Globes addressed that very issue.  Their collective silence wasn’t golden.  It was gutless.

“I’m not surprised,” said Ryan Witry, 20, a junior at DePaul, “but I am somewhat disappointed.  Don’t wear pins if you’re not willing to speak out.  Don’t be a bystander.”

Witry watched the entire ceremony and believed that the “Time’s Up” coalition was well represented.  But he’s worried about people taking advantage of the movement.

“It’s one thing to say you believe in it, but it’s another to actually do something about it,” Witry said.  “People like James Franco don’t deserve to be viewed as altruistic if they’re also abusing others.  That distracts from the movement as a whole.”

Paul Drinkwater | AP

Four days after the Golden Globes, the Los Angeles Times reported that five women had accused Franco of “inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior.  The actor has since denied the allegations, but he supported their decision to speak out.  Franco wore all black during the ceremony.

Wearing a solid color of clothing is hardly showing solidarity to begin with.  Let’s get that straight.  It’s doing the bare-minimum.  The same goes for donning a plastic pin or using a particular hashtag on Twitter.  That doesn’t absolve anyone (or in this case any man) from using their platform to speak about against injustice.

Especially when that platform comes in front of a nationally televised audience.  Nobody is asking Gary Oldman, Aziz Ansari or Ewan McGregor to undo decades of sickening misconduct.  That’s impossible.  But identifying a problem is the first step towards finding a solution.  Failing to do so suggests that there isn’t a problem.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Sam Breedlove, 19, a sophomore at DePaul, “This movement is more complicated than it may seem.  Not everything is black and white, and not a lot of people are educated on the whole thing thing.”

Breedlove cautioned against condemning those who avoided the subject during their speeches.  Even with the best intentions, she argued that they could’ve inadvertently said the wrong thing.  That’s especially true if the individual isn’t well informed.

“This just tells me that people need to actively go out of their way to listen and learn more about this movement, as well as for people within to leave some room for growth,” Breedlove said.

When referring to discussions of race back in the fall, San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich had this to say.

“Well, it’s because it’s uncomfortable and there has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change.”

Racism and sexism are not the same, but they do intersect.  They’re uncomfortable to talk about.  But that doesn’t mean conversations involving those concepts shouldn’t be had.  Would it have been uncomfortable to make a statement regarding sexual harassment on live television?  Absolutely.

But for millions of women in this country, those same feelings of uneasiness are what they endure in the workplace every day.  Voicing support for a movement for change in front of a camera is the least a man should be willing to do.

And it doesn’t stop there.  In fact, the fight against sexual assault will never stop.  It shouldn’t take a monster like Weinstein to spark public outrage.  This isn’t a new phenomenon – just ask your mother, sister, daughter or girlfriend.  Better yet, listen to what they have to say.

Pay attention to organizations like DePaul’s Feminist Front and their message.  Take claims of sexual abuse very seriously.  If you see something, say something.