“We all like looking sexy, but it doesn’t mean we want to fuck you.”
Cate Blanchett’s emphatic proclamation—made during an InStyle ceremony this Monday—echoed a sentiment women have been expressing for years. But her bold message reverberates at just the right time. The Style Icon Award winner called out the predatory chauvinism that, until recently, remained an open secret in Hollywood—and waged war on it.
Blanchett also capitalized upon the moment in crafting a not-so-subtle affront towards former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, stating, “No one says to Steve Bannon, ‘you look like a bag of trash. Do you want me to throw you out?'” The line was an implication that distasteful comments with regard to appearance seem to always be reserved for women.
She also used her moment in the spotlight to celebrate unabashed individuality in an industry that works tirelessly to reduce the female presence and define women by what they chooses to drape over their torsos. Ever gracious, she maintained her disposition that style is not merely just a testament to the distinct manipulation of fabric. She was insistent that the awards ceremony was chiefly about celebrating “women who know how they look, it’s not all of who they are but just an extension of that, and it’s about women who feel free to wear what they want when they want and how they want to wear it”—irrespective of men.
The speech was, in a sense, yet another in a series of battle cries at a time primed for resistance and revolution. Blanchett added her voice to a growing crusade within the industry in open defiance of the plague of sexism. Women in all professions, emboldened by the slew of dismissals at Fox News as well as the recent castigation of Harvey Weinstein for illicit sexual advances, are coming forward to say “enough is enough!”
Blanchett’s speech, of course, touches on issues larger than one network or one media mogul. Men in Hollywood over the last few weeks have come under consistent fire from women no longer content to stay quiet about the ways in which they have been victimized and violated—and they’re facing consequences. Prominent screenwriter James Toback, now under investigation for 38 accounts of sexual assault with over 200 women coming forward since an initial report by The New York Times, was released by his agency in light of the allegations. Terry Richardson, who has faced allegations of harassment for nearly a decade, is finally out at Conde Naste, and Marilyn Manson split with his bassist over rape allegations surfacing this week. As more and more women break the silence around sexual abuse and exploitation in Hollywood and elsewhere, the tip of the iceberg is becoming an avalanche.
The stir in Hollywood has prompted a noticeable shift in political discussions around the world. Foreign diplomats and policy makers are taking note of the seismic unrest ripping through the corporate sphere, and taking steps to address the pandemic of harassment. France’s Gender Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa made tangible judicial progress in the fight against sexual assault, crafting a law that would establish harsher punishment for street harassment and prolong the statute of limitations deadline in instances of rape. Schiappa, in an interview with Reuters, cited the recent Hollywood revelations as her catalyst. “We are really at a turning point,” she said, “with the Weinstein affair as a trigger.” In Belgium, the Weinstein debacle has sparked parliamentary debate as to how to combat the scourge of corporate sexual harassment. The European Commission’s gender equality chief, Czech Commissioner Vera Jourova, divulged that she herself had been subjected to several confrontations with sexual harassment, but was inclined to remain silent for fear of being stigmatized.
Blanchett perfectly tapped into that growing unified consciousness in her speech, spurning hundreds of retweets and numerous rally cries. We consider all of them well-deserved—hers is a message we can never tire of proclaiming, as loudly and urgently as possible.
Sarah Alexander is a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge. In addition to being a writer, she is a visual and performing artist, and attempts to use film, music and online platforms to spark conversation about social activism. She is an anomalous LA native, which affects her personality in a plethora of unique ways.