Yesterday marked the second Women’s March event across America, which saw thousands of people march in rallies that took place in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and around 250 other cities. The march last year was a significant event that saw huge numbers of the general public, as well as celebrities, come together in mass protests at the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency.
This year, the sentiment was even stronger considering the turbulent past few months that have given rise to incredible campaigns including #MeToo and #TimesUp. Since the number of scandals that were exposed of prominent figures in Hollywood, it’s been a pivotal time for women’s rights, gender equality and pushes to combat sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
— Anna North (@annanorthtweets) 20 January 2018
First Tide pod reference at the New York Women’s March (Megan Burns, 30): pic.twitter.com/3EcMeVDbS7
— Cora Lewis (@cora) 20 January 2018
And this year, Scarlett Johansson was invited back to the podium to make a speech again, and she took the opportunity to slam fellow actor James Franco for being a hypocrite.
Franco two weeks ago accepted an award at the Golden Globes while wearing one of the Time’s Up pins, after which five different women came forward accusing Franco of sexual misconduct. It was this that the Avengers actress seemed to be referring to.
Addressing the crowd of 500,000 people at the Los Angeles Women’s March event, she said: “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 paused, before adding: “I want my pin back, by the way.”
While she didn’t mention Franco’s name directly, everyone speculated it was about him following the sexual harassment and assault allegations that have recently been made public. An official representative for Johansson later confirmed that her comments were indeed directed at and referring to Franco.
In the rest of her 6-minute speech, Johansson recalled personal stories of when she was younger and often found herself compromising “what felt right” for her. None other than Mila Kunis joined her at one stage to hold the microphone for her.
“Suddenly I was 19 again and I began to remember all the men who had taken advantage of the fact that I was a young woman who didn’t yet have the tools to say no, or understand the value of my own self-worth,” she said.
Scarlett’s speech touched my heart. I’m having problem forgiving those who betrayed my trust. They made me feel so helpless, so used, they took advantage of the fact that I loved them, I trusted them, they used my weakness against me. Thank you Scarlett. You made me realize that I need to forgive.. Not because they deserve it…but for me…Because I deserve to be happy. #scarlettjohansson #timesup #womensmarch #feminist
“I had many relationships both personal and professional where the power dynamic was so off that I had to create a narrative that I was the cool girl who could hang in and hang out, and that sometimes meant compromising what felt right for me.”
But she told the crowd that now, she holds her own voice and her own gut feeling as the most important thing.
“No more pandering. No more feeling guilty about hurting someone’s feelings when something doesn’t feel right for me,” she said to finish her speech. “I have made a promise to myself to be responsible to my self, that in order to trust my instincts I must first respect them.”
Johansson was one of the original signers of the Time’s Up announcement letter and has given major donations to its fund. Franco is yet to comment on the speech and denies all allegations.