An ocean of guests, the majority of whom were clad in black, greeted viewers tuning in to the 75th annual Golden Globes award ceremony. The unified dress code – addressed by the hashtag #WhyWeWearBlack – was a message of solidarity in the face of Hollywood’s systemic problems with sexual harassment, racism, and misogyny.
#WhyWeWearBlack also took on the media’s role in awards ceremony coverage, where they would typically pit women against each other in a nasty practice known as the “worst-dressed” list. The notoriously difficult-to-photograph color assured an equal playing field, and forced many media outlets to re-write and re-examine their coverage.
“What we are wearing is not a statement of fashion,” actor and activist Amber Tamblyn penned in an inspiring essay for The New York Times. “It is a statement of action. It is a direct message of resistance. Black because we are powerful when we stand together with all women across industry lines. Black because we’re starting over, resetting the standard. Black because we’re done being silenced and we’re done with the silencers. Tonight is not a mourning. Tonight is an awakening.”
Men and women also banded together to send a clear communiqué to people that abuse their power: Time’s Up Now. Time’s up on using that power to exploit the disenfranchised, time’s up on paying women less than men for working the same job, time’s up on abusing people who are on your payroll. The victims have become the activists, and they’re coming for justice.
The victims have become the activists, and they’re coming for justice.
Over 300 women in Hollywood, including elite A-listers like Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey, united this year to form Time’s Up Now, a legal defense fund that raises money for the victims of sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. Not only did they quickly raise $16 million for the fund, but they have also been joined by forces like the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, a female farmworkers alliance boasting over 700,000 members. In a powerful showing of friendship and solidarity, Dern brought the founder of the organization, Mónica Ramírez, to the Golden Globes as her date.
In fact, many of the nominees brought activists with them as their dates, or brought female friends with them instead of the traditional spouse or significant other. Michelle Williams brought the #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Emma Watson brought Marai Larasi, the executive director of the black feminist anti-violence organization Imkaan, Amy Poehler took Saru Jayaraman, an advocate and attorney for restaurant workers, Meryl Streep brought Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the list continues.
Since one of the goals of the #WhyWeWearBlack movement was to make women on the red carpet into more than objects, prompting interviewers to forego the traditional “Who are you wearing?” question or focus on their outward appearance too much, it also made it impossible for the media to scrutinize between “best” and “worst” dressed. While it was refreshing to see red carpet interviews that focused more on the actors’ projects or thoughts on #TimesUpNow rather than their ensembles, we disappointingly noted that only women were asked about the movement.
Conspicuously absent from the conversation were perspectives from males, who are, ostensibly, the major target of the sexual harassment allegations pouring out of Hollywood. Even when they showed their solidarity by wearing all-black, it was a tragic missed opportunity that we never heard their vocal support. It’s especially frustrating because it assumes that women are the ones who should bear the emotional labor of the movement, when the task falls to all of us, men included.