When the world found out Oprah Winfrey would take home the 2018 Golden Globes’ Cecil B. Demille Award, the HFPA’s lifetime achievement honour, we all knew the cultural icon’s speech would be spine-tinglingly, world-changingly inspirational. After all, the ability to pull off such huge moments is what Reese Witherspoon, who introduced her Wrinkle In Time costar at the awards show, said makes Oprah so "extraordinary". But as both the teary Beverly Hilton audience and viewers at home learned, we hadn’t seen anything yet when it comes to uplifting, culture-shifting Oprah rallying cries.
What made Oprah’s speech so very special was the epic, unbeatable, fearless way she painted the #TimesUp movement. The less plugged-in folks at home may have heard rumblings about the A-list women-led campaign to end systemic sexism, but now they know it’s here to stay — and reaches so far beyond the Hollywood Hills.
The crescendo of Oprah’s speech began when she delved into the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman who was kidnapped, blindfolded, and raped by a horde of white men on the way home after church in 1944. While those men, who threatened to murder Taylor if she ever reported their heinous actions, were never prosecuted, Oprah proudly announced those days are unquestionably, resoundingly over.
I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!
“She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” the OWN network founder said in front of a weepy crowd. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”
By telling the story of Taylor, Oprah reminded the world that sexual abuse and misogyny isn’t an ill that has devastated only the entertainment industry. It’s a disease corrupting Hollywood, and tiny pockets of Alabama, and roadside motel rooms in need of cleaning, and rural farms. As the businesswoman said, “It's one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace.” That is why the survivors of this darkness are oftentimes "the women whose names we'll never know".
Thankfully, Oprah’s speech proves she’s fighting for each and every unnamed woman out there. And, after observing the former talk show queen for decades, we know Oprah gets stuff done. “I've interviewed and portrayed people who've withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights,” she said in the closing of her speech.
“So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say 'Me too' again."
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