Scarlett Johansson calls out James Franco, Halsey reads harrowing rape poem, and Natalie Portman recalls "rape fantasy" fan letter she got at 13 years old.
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump took office, and the first Women's March came together in response and protest to his anti-feminist sentiments and behavior. On the one-year anniversary of his presidency, they came together again to remind America that their work isn't done, with many celebrities joining in with powerful speeches, signs and support for women from all walks of life.
Seemingly oblivious to what was really going on -- or simply trying to change the narrative -- Trump took to Twitter to tout the great weather for a march, and act like they were marching in support of his presidency.
Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018
But while the president was taking credit for the Women's March, the women themselves were out in force to protest his administration and its policies, as well as continuing the work of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, seeking equality and safety from sexual harassment and assault for women in the workplace and in their lives.
"Gender equality can't just exist outside ourselves — it must exist within. We must take responsibility not just for our actions, but for ourselves." - Actress Scarlett Johansson speaks at the Women's March in Los Angeles https://t.co/M5pSNN63YJ pic.twitter.com/iwkHXWLhsX— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 20, 2018
Scarlett Johansson spoke about what #MeToo means to her, and why she believes it matters.
"It is very simply the ability to empathize with the visceral realities of this condition. I want to move forward," she said. "And for me, moving forward means my daughter growing up in a world where she doesn't have to be a victim of what has cruelly become the social norm. That she doesn't have to fit into the bindings of the female condition."
She also got in a pointed jab at James Franco, who wore a #TimesUp pin to the Golden Globes while facing several allegations of sexual misconduct himself. "How could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?" she asked, adding, "I want my pin back!"
If it's not yet clear how pervasive and problematic this casual "rape culture" is for Hollywood starlets, consider that Natalie Portman's first fan letter at the age of 13 was a graphically detailed "rape fantasy." She also recalled that a local radio station set up a countdown to her 18th birthday, which is something that has been echoed for plenty of young female stars over the years from Lindsay Lohan to Miley Cyrus and the Olsen twins.
"I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe," Portman said. "And that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body, to my great discomfort."
This included film critics, who felt it appropriate to talk about her "budding breasts" while discussing her film.
Singer Halsey told the assembled crowd that she wasn't good at giving speeches that didn't rhyme, but she came prepared nevertheless. She didn't sing, though, but rather gave a spoken word performance of a very real, very personal, and very raw poem about rape she wrote entitled, "A Story Like Mine."
In it, she detailed in beautiful language an ugliness that is all too common for women of all ages and from all walks of life. She ended with the refrain that the work has just begun. There's a war to be won!
One of the loudest voices throughout the #MeToo movement, Alyssa Milano has often used that voice to urge people to get active in the process and use their own voices to affect change. She talked again about this, emphasizing the power of the American democracy to make things better through each person's vote.
"Voting is how we prove that our country is so much bigger and kinder than one man that is in the White House. The good news is that in a democracy like ours, the real power is not with [Donald Trump], it is with you," Milano told the assembled crowd. "We formed a movement that is unstoppable and when time comes time to vote, you're gonna prove that it's also unbeatable."
Olivia Munn's message was one of unity and strength, of women remaining united and strong as they navigate this difficult chapter in our culture.
"I'm asking all of you to be the team member for every woman in your life," she said. "Refrain from judgment. Be the rock of understanding be the well of empathy. Right here, we all have the power to make sure that our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, great granddaughters, grow up with a mentality, that if you come from one of us, you come from all of us."
"The only way we're going to make a change is if we commit to change," Whoopi Goldberg said at the New York March. "We're all human beings and have a right to say 'This is how I want to be spoken to.' I don't want to be spoken to like you own me, like you think you can touch me when I say you cannot. We are here to say—as women—we're not taking it anymore. It's just not going to happen."
There were many women that spoke at the Women's March, all with a message of strength and hope. Viola Davis said her "testimony is one of poverty," and one "of being sexually assaulted," and that's what drives her to the voting booth. Olivia Wilde said that women "must reach across cultural divides and recognize our power as an undivided force."
Sarah Hyland agreed, saying that 2017 proved to each woman that she is not alone. "Millions of women have raised their voices and told the world, hey, MeToo," and now they "have declared that time is up."
There were male voices speaking in solidarity as well, with Rob Reiner saying that it is with women taking the "true power that they have" that the country can be reclaimed from the "pathalogical liar in the White House." Larry Wilmore said that not only do we need more women at the table, but we need them at the head of the table."
Yvette Nicole Brown urged the women and men assembled to "be not weary in well doing. Take a moment, take a breath, take a knee, do what you need to do to get your mind and your spirit and your heart right. But get it together and then get back into the fight."
Alfre Woodard, Tracee Ellis-Ross, Asia Argento, Demi Lovato, Yoko Ono, Drew Barrymore, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rosie Perez, Padma Lakshmi, Patricia Arquette, Adele, Mila Kunis, Amber Tamblyn, Piper Perabo, Marcia Gay Harden, and many more celebrities came out again in support of the Women's March in Los Angeles and New York City.