#MeToo or #NotUs? Male Silence at the Golden Globes and Beyond

By Kelly Shepard

While it seems like a life-time away, the Golden Globes were just a month ago–revealing crucial lessons we need to carry into our future work fighting for gender equity. At the event where activism played a key role, feminism shone bright and entertainers dressed entirely in black as a silent sign of support. Yet, it seemed that the #MeToo movement was still taken less than seriously by half the population in attendance. Perhaps not by the female members of the crowd who shared the famous hashtag on their social media accounts and in red carpet interviews, but certainly by the men who acted as though they didn’t have a role in this progress at all.

The Golden Globes are meant to be a somewhat politicized event, where entertainers can speak their voices, be heard and advocate for change they wish to see take place. Oprah made her famous speech telling women that “a new day is on the horizon!” Natalie Portman called out the nominations for Best Director as being solely male. Even actresses like Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, and Amy Poehler brought female activists as dates instead of male escorts.

For an event so politically driven, men were almost nowhere to be found, popping in and out of the scene to accept awards, announce nominees and smile for cameras. This begs the question: Is the change supposed to be about #MeToo or #NotUs? Perhaps men need to learn how to be better men in 2018.

Seth Started Off Strong

Our brightly shining host, Seth Meyers, had a great kick off to recognize the “ladies and remaining gentlemen” at the event, a joke that created a wave of laughter in the crowd. Being a longtime comedian and writer for SNL, Meyers surely knows how to rouse a crowd with a few jabs at laughable realities.

I just wondered the whole time, why the hell was a male even hosting this year? After all, 2017 was a year of female empowerment as we chose not to support a misogynist president, took down a sexist billionaire and called out dozens of powerful men for their illegal antics.

I don’t have an issue with Seth Meyers, as he is one of the remaining gentlemen that Meyers  referenced early on in the night, but I just wonder if a female host would have had a more powerful message for young women, for victims of sexual assault and harassment, and for women hoping for change in an industry of misogyny. The very fact that a woman was not asked to host the Golden Globes pays tribute to the true socioeconomic inequalities that leave women underpaid, underrepresented, and unheard.  

James Franco Said Nothing

I was even more surprised to see a superstar like James Franco make no effort to either address the rumors surrounding his own sexual harassment claims or at least advocate for change during his acceptance speech. He had all the time in the world to deny Tommy Wiseau speaking privileges, but not once did he even utter the words gender inequality, sexual assault, progress of change, or anything remotely related to the issues at hand.

It is in times like these that feminists need to send a letter to men, if only to open their eyes to the ways in which they continue the oppression of other genders in their everyday lives. By simply not making a statement and by not acknowledging the statements of other women, men fuel the fire of faux feminism–or false support of feminists causes.

When you have as much power and as strong a voice as a character like James Franco, you should be using every opportunity you have to speak truth to power, to advocate for necessary change in social constructs and to, like Obama famously quoted, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Just a Pin? Really?

Some men attempted to show their advocacy for the Time’s Up campaign that is part of a legal defense fund, which connects those who have experienced sexual misconduct in “the workplace or in trying to advance their careers with legal and public relations assistance” by wearing pins. Pins are commonly used at awards shows to advocate for issues that are personal to celebrities, but this time things felt different.

While the pins were being sported all throughout the Golden Globes by men in black suits, there was little effort made to vocalize the issues they represented or the issues that were being promoted all night. Several men wore the pins and didn’t say even a single syllable related to any kind of social change or growth.

This type of faux feminism that occurs in men is not altogether mysterious, as true feminists  have made several theories attempting to understand why men do the things they do in the name of feminism. Men wear pins that mean something and say nothing, and we are supposed to believe them to be true supporters of the female cause.

This is not the case.

As with the Golden Globes, men/people of power will always jump on a bandwagon that gets them more votes, claps or tweets, and unfortunately that sometimes means hushing the attempts women are making at bringing true light to real issues, like sexual assault and violence.

All I have to say to the silent men walking the red carpet of the Golden Globes is that your voices can help create change, your support can help bolster female words, and your privilege can help bring about the change that is necessary for people of all races, beliefs, genders and backgrounds to thrive in the world with equality and equity. Men need to support women in their movement for change by creating change in their own daily lives.

They can do so in simple and even monumental ways, beginning at home and moving into the community. Rather than breeding innately gendered children, reinforce independence by purchasing toys that don’t limit children to a single color or style. In the company of your male counterparts, use respectful terminology for women and refrain from giving strength to biased language. A simple, “Dude, that’s not cool,” can do wonders. At work, support female coworkers striving toward pay equality and career advancement. Even small changes like this can make the feminist movement a place for both strong women and strong men.