The Top Five Feminist Moments From the 2015 Emmys

If you missed the Emmys last night and were wondering if any of the many feminists nominated used their platform to say or do something epic, the answer is a resounding yes. The awards show was a night of many quotable, GIF-able feminist moments, and we did a countdown of the best ones below!

5. Amy Schumer and Amy Poehler calling out sexism.

What’s better than one Amy? Two Amys! These funny feminists took to the Emmys stage to present the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy. Schumer, our Summer 2015 coverwoman, poked fun at the unfair standards women actors are held up to when she quipped: “Let’s not forget what tonight is really about. Celebrating hilarious women and letting the internet weigh in on who looks worse.”

Fans loved seeing the Amys together, with some suggesting the pair co-host the 2016 Oscars. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

4. Taraji P. Henson cheering on Viola Davis.

The unforgettable Cookie from Empire provided a perfect example of the feminist way to lose an Emmy. Both Henson and Viola Davis were up for an award in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama category. Both knew that they could make history that night. When the Emmy went to Davis, Henson not only clapped wildly but jumped to her feet to give a standing ovation when no one else did. She understood that Davis’ win was a win for her and a win for black women actors everywhere. So she supported and celebrated her fellow actor with the same level of enthusiasm that she would have if the golden statuette had gone to her. As E. Alex Jung said over at Vulture, she may have lost the Emmy, but she won our hearts!

3. Jeffrey Tambor thanking the trans community.

If you haven’t seen Transparent, then hop on your friend’s Amazon Prime account or sign up for a free trial because you’re missing out. Jill Soloway’s family drama is arguably one of the best representations of transitioning to hit the small screen, and star Jeffrey Tambor did standout work as Maura Pfefferman. Though the show could have featured more trans people of color, the increased visibility it gave to the lived experiences of trans folks cannot be understated. Tambor used his acceptance speech for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy to thank the trans community for allowing him to the opportunity to share their stories:

I had a teacher who used to say, you know, ‘When you act, you have to act as if your life depends on it.’ And now I’ve been given the opportunity to act because people’s lives depend on it.

He went on to thank Soloway, the show’s creator, and his wife before acknowledging the trans community again at the end of his speech:

I’d like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for our inspiration. Thank you for letting us be part of the change.

2. Jill Soloway speaking out for trans rights.

Jill Soloway’s own parent came out to her as trans when she was an adult, providing the inspiration for her critical hit Transparent. She took a moment in her acceptance speech forOutstanding Directing for a Comedy Series to speak about her “Mapa,” giving a sobering reminder of the discrimination transgender people face in their daily lives.

Something interesting about my Mapa. She could, tomorrow, go and try to find an apartment and in 32 states it would be legal for the landlord to say, ‘We don’t rent to trans people.’ We don’t have a trans tipping point yet; we have a trans civil rights problem. So go to pass the trans equality bill.

And it’s not just housing discrimination: Transgender people face limited access to employment, healthcare and even restrooms. The bill that Soloway mentioned could change that by enshrining trans rights in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1. Viola Davis’ unforgettable speech about women of color.

When Davis won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama, it marked the first time an African American woman received the honor. Davis’ speech was the most memorable of the night and had several celebrities in the audience, including Kerry Washington, tearing up. Davis has consistently used her awards show platform to speak out on the sexism, racism and colorism that actors like her face, and this time was the granddaddy of them all. Quoting a speech from abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Davis said:

‘In my mind, I see a line, and over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no-how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.

After a pregnant pause, she concluded, “Let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Which moment was your favorite? Sound off in the comments!






Associate editor of Ms. magazine