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DADult Life | August 15, 2018

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Oprah’s Golden Globes speech: A vision of the world I want for my daughter

Oprah Golden Globes 2018

The 75th annual Golden Globes took place on Sunday 7th January, which saw the rich and powerful out in force to celebrate the past year’s film and TV achievements.

There was more to this year’s glitzy ceremony than champagne and smiles though.

Hollywood was tainted in 2017 as an alarming number of courageous female stars came forward and revealed they had been violated and exploited by twisted men who had abused their positions of power over the years. Their bravery resulted in some men admitting they too had been victims.

Given this turn of events, many chose to use their platform at the Golden Globes to champion female empowerment, raising awareness of the “Me too” campaign that invited victims to share their stories, which appears to have evolved to the next level of emancipation in 2018 – Time’s Up.

Launched at the start of this year, Time’s Up is about more than Hollywood. The website’s homepage has a no-nonsense message: The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.

That means, regardless of gender, race or social status, everyone should be treated equally.

It’s an old expression, but I’ve always been of the mindset to treat people how you want to be treated and that’s something I’ll instil in Roma. Manners cost nothing and should not be underestimated, though too many people, sadly, fail to see the value in them – you only have to look at the comments sections of most online content to see it.

Based on that, sexism isn’t something that I’ve ever channelled personally, but becoming a father of a daughter has made me reflect on that outdated chauvinistic way of thinking.

Almost everywhere I look, I find myself inspired, pained, thoughtful, confused, about certain stories surrounding women, for it may not be tomorrow, but a time will come when my little girl will become a woman.

One thing in particular that returns is the idea of role models – who in the public eye would I want Roma to look up to?

There are many examples that have caught my imagination, but due to my nerdy sensibilities, I’ll start by highlighting Daisy Ridley. The young actress has found fame in the lead role of Rey in Star Wars as a Jedi, carrying the franchise forward to a new legion of fans.

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Despite this breakthrough, one frustrated dad was recently left voicing his exasperation after a trip to Primark with his six-year-old daughter went awry. After promising her a Star Wars T-shirt to mark The Last Jedi release, there was only branded clothing for boys, with nothing related on offer for girls – despite the fact the lead is a woman. Go figure.

“At the moment I have a little girl who likes everything but feels she can’t wear a Star Wars t-shirt because of where it’s displayed in the store,” he said. “Setting clothing out like this says to kids and parents that they have to shop in this section and can’t swap.”

Then there’s Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. This marked the first mainstream female-led superhero film, which not only generated brilliant reviews and returns, it also happened to be directed by Patty Jenkins.

Unimportant this may seem, but cast your film preferences aside. As a girl dad, I personally feel there is no denying that these figures, these characters, these role models, the fictional counterparts and the actresses playing them, will ultimately send a message that it’s not just the boys who can save the day, show leadership or achieve success.

Elsewhere, more grounded in reality, but no less heroic, proving role models can come of age at any time, there’s the story of 11-year-old girl Kheris Rogers, who started a clothing line in response to bullying.

Picked on for her dark skin, she shut down the haters with her Flexin in my Complexion range, which encourages people to embrace their appearance and love their colour.

I probably wouldn’t have thought about these types of developments in nearly as much granular detail if it weren’t for me having a daughter, which reinforces the fact that my eyes have been opened to a new point of view, a new world.

As the kids say – I stay woke (sorry, not sorry).

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On the night of the Golden Globes, Oprah won the Cecil B. deMille Award.

She kick-started her acceptance speech by reflecting on her time as a young girl when she saw Sidney Poitier win Best Actor at the Oscars on TV in 1964.

“Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black, and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she recalled.

“I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mum came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses.”

Poitier went on to win the Cecil B. DeMille award in 1982, which Oprah herself has now also received, making the moment that much more poignant.

“It is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award,” she continued. “It is an honour and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them.”

Moving onto the topic of equality and justice, Oprah spoke with passion and vigour that captivated not just those in the room – that much was clear from the attentive, tearful faces cameras captured in the audience – but the world watching as her speech was released online.

“I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories,” Oprah said.

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She said it’s not just about the entertainment scene and reeled off industries including farming, sport, hospitality, engineering, military, science and more, as she said that women in those markets “whose names we’ll never know” are also part of the story, while also paying tribute to personal heroes Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks.

“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,” she roared.

“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.”

Related posts:

Turns out pregnant women aren’t made of glass

A poem I wrote for my daughter before she was born

The birth of our daughter – a viewpoint from a first-time dad

A tribute to my granddad

50 days of fatherhood: 50 fast thoughts from a first-time father

Being of mixed heritage and relocating to a predominantly white area at a young age, I have encountered racism in my time. And as an adult, I’ve been on the receiving end of stereotyping – finding myself pulled over by police; people nonchalantly asking if I’ve got any drugs for sale.

But never before have I experienced the foul suffering that many of those she spoke of have endured, yet after hearing her speech, my eyes were left damp with empathy, my belly full of fire and heart surging with hope.

I can’t even begin to imagine how liberated those there with her in that room, those who have been victimised in their time, must have felt to hear Oprah’s rousing declaration.

It’s no wonder there has been speculation and calls for her to run for president, I was left thinking the same thing and soon realised I wasn’t alone – the reports have been everywhere.

At seven months old, it’s going to be a while before my daughter will understand the way the world works and what moments like this mean – hell, I’m three decades in and I still don’t – but as far as I’m concerned, this vision of the world that Oprah has painted is one I welcome for her wholeheartedly.

And as Oprah said: “Their time is up.”

So, when it comes to shaping my daughter’s outlook on life, her time is now.

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