Influential Speakers at the 2018 Women's March

On January 20th, the second Women’s March was held nationwide in protest of sexual assault across the country, more specifically Hollywood. Even though the march was held to bring awareness to that fact that millions of women across the globe are being sexually assaulted everyday, there no real goals set in place of the march. The march was a place for unity and support for every woman, whether they had been sexually assaulted or not. This years women’s march brought forth awareness of how we should react and handle those affected by sexual assault. But the part of the nationwide march that stood out the most, were the brave women who spoke out against their own sexual assault experiences while also shining light on racism and sexism that has become more prominent in the workforce and everyday life. While there were tons of women speaking out and sharing their own stories, the speeches given by Viola Davis, Halsey and Scarlett Johansson were the most outspoken and influential at this years march.

At this years Women’s March, Viola Davis shined light on how her sexual assault had affected her life and how women should come together and fight against men who use their gender and race as a “power” to discourage women from speaking up for their rights. Viola Davis expressed how her childhood was ripped away from her when she was raped as a young child, highlighting how men take advantage of girls and women in their most vulnerable moments because they feel as though it’s their right and privileged to do so. Davis also shined light on how she was not only faced with blatant sexism throughout her life, but everyday racism that she also had to overcome. Through these tribulations, Davis used her voting abilities to vote in political figures who fought and continue to fight for equal rights. Davis stated, “The reason why Jim Crow laws were in place, that stifled my rights and your rights, is because we fell asleep”, calling upon not only women to do the same, but all Americans to vote, because if we all allow men to control what they can do to our bodies and take advantage of our rights, the country itself with implode. Throughout her speech, Viola Davis made subtle hints to female solidarity but preaches the fact that not only privileged white women be pulled up and succeed, but that all women of different race, sexual orientation and social status be included in the women’s rights movement and not forgotten.

While most of the speakers at the march gave the standard speech, Halsey narrated her personal experiences through a poem entitled “A Story Like Mine” which highlights her own sexual assault and how she helped her friend after she was raped. Through both of her narratives, Halsey managed to express how difficult it is for young girls to be forced into having sex by men or even their boyfriends. The experience her best friend faced when she had to go to planned parenthood when she feared getting an abortion she couldn’t afford exemplifies how women’s healthcare is extremely expensive and constantly threatened by male republicans who put young women in dangerous situations in which they will receive the procedures they need done in a dangerous way. All because male republicans feel women’s healthcare isn’t as important as funding a wall across the Mexico border is. Later on in her poem, Halsey goes on to express how her own rape shows how even in a loving relationship, women and young girls are taken advantage of in a sexual situations in which they have no say over because they feel as though they are inclined to give in to a man’s sexual desire because they “love” them. Halsey’s poem encompasses the idea that men believe they have more power over women and that women need to become more empowered and take action against men who believe they have the right to degrade women and young girls in this way.

Scarlett Johansson’s six minute speech was unique in the sense that she was not afraid to call out sexual predators in Hollywood and how male celebrities will pretend to support women’s rights just to protect their careers. One sexual predator who Johansson called out in particular was James Franco, a famous actor who was recently accused of sexually assaulting five different women, one of which included Scarlett Johansson. Johansson managed to call out James Franco without even mentioning his name just by posing a simple question, “How could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?”. Her simple question heavily implies the allegations attached to Franco, which he continuously denies and is still a renowned actor in Hollywood even after all these women exposed him as a rapist. Even though it has been confirmed by Scarlett Johansson’s publicity team that the speech was in fact about James Franco, leaving him nameless is a metaphor for the hundreds of men in Hollywood who have been condemned for sexual harassment and the hundreds of men who have yet to be convicted as rapists. Johansson did not hold back from showing how male celebrities will preach feminism just to protect their own careers while continuing to go back on their “beliefs” they preach in the tabloids. To add a comical anecdote to her heavy speech, Johansson demanded that the “nameless” rapist give back her pin, alluding to the “Times Up” pin Franco wore to this year’s Golden Globes Award Show.

 

This year’s Women’s March was extremely important in bringing women closer together and raising awareness for the sexual assault women and young girls face everyday. The Women’s March was a bright light guiding women towards a better world in which they don’t have to live in fear that their male bosses will take advantage of them or that their healthcare benefits will be stripped away by old men who have political power. These marches push women to fight for their rights and give a voice to the women who are not able to speak up, shining light on the importance of fighting for women’s rights to protect women across not only the country, but the world as a whole.