Scarlett Johansson didn't mince words when she took the stage at the Women's March in Los Angeles. The actress, who is one of the original signers behind the Time's Up letter demanding action against sexual harassment, gave a rousing speech that took aim at self-proclaimed allies in Hollywood who don't practise what they preach.
There's one "ally" in particular that has drawn Johansson's ire. “How could a person publicly stand by an organisation that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?” she addressed the marchers gathered in Pershing Square. "I want my pin back, by the way."
A rep confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Johansson's speech was referencing James Franco. Though Franco was among the Golden Globes attendees showing their sartorial support for the Time's Up movement by wearing black and a pin on his lapel, allegations of sexual misconduct against the Disaster Artist lead were reported by the Times just days later. Franco has denied the allegations, but many have called his motives into question.
"How is it okay for someone in a position of power to use that power to take advantage of someone in a lesser position, just because you can?" she continued. "Does that make it okay? If a person isn't saying 'yes,' but they aren't saying 'no,' how can anyone feel justified to make that decision for them?"
Johansson's speech, which begins around the 32-minute mark in the video above, also touched on her own negative experiences, both as an actress and in her romantic relationships.
"Suddenly I was 19 again, and I started 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 to understand the value of my own self-worth," she shared as actress Mila Kunis held up her microphone. "I've had many relationships, both personal and professional, where the power dynamic was so off, that I had to create a narrative in which I was the cool girl who could hang in and hang out."
She added that this "cool girl" approach sometimes meant compromising what she was comfortable with, which ultimately left her feeling "unseen and degraded."
Despite being one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, even Johansson could identify with being "conditioned" as a woman to play nice and placate. She told yesterday's protestors that she was determined to leave the so-called "female condition" behind and focus on an empowering new mantra: "No. More. Pandering."
"No more feeling guilty about hurting someone’s feelings when something doesn’t feel right for me,” Johansson, who wore a Time's Up T-shirt for the occasion, said. “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.”
The Lost in Translation star also referenced her 3-year-old daughter, Rose, as motivation for fighting for gender equality, noting that she didn't want the child to "be a victim."
Franco has not yet responded to Johansson's speech. Meanwhile, there's speculation as to whether the allegations against him, which were published just one day after Oscar voting ended, will hurt his chances of a Best Actor nomination for The Disaster Artist. Oscar nominations will be announced on January 23.
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