Five Feminist Moments from the 2020 Golden Globes

The Golden Globes once again became a platform for conversations about social justice this weekend—much to the chagrin of host Ricky Gervais. Celebrities kicked off the new year with a series of rousing speeches on political topics like climate change, abortion and even escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Below are five of our favorite moments. Which were yours?

#5: Awkwafina Made Herstory

When she accepted the award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, performer Awkwafina made history. She is the first-ever person of Asian descent to win in the category, and only the sixth Asian woman to be nominated in it.

#4: Jennifer Aniston Delivered an Urgent Message on Climate Change from Australia

Accepting the award for Best Actor in a Limited TV Series on behalf of Russel Crowe, Aniston delivered a message from the Australian star in the midst of devastating and widespread wildfires that have claimed dozens of lives, destroyed thousands of homes and killed a half-billion animals.

“Make no mistake,” Aniston read. “The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way we all have a future.”

#3: Kate McKinnon and Ellen Degeneres Got Serious About Seeing Yourself On-Screen

“I would like to read a list of things that tonight’s recipient, Ellen DeGeneres, has personally given me,” comedian Kate McKinnon told the crowd during a speech announcing the Carol Burnett Award recipient, Ellen DeGeneres, “and some of these are spiritual and some of them are pieces of clothing I got to keep after doing impressions of her on her talk show: a road map for a way to be funny that is grounded in an expression of joy; two pairs of Stan Smith sneakers (that’s one of the clothes ones); a desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things we have in common; my best collared shirts; a sense of self.”

McKinnon went on to explain the significance of DeGeneres’ presence on-screen, especially after coming out, and risking her entire career for it, in the late 1990s. “In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was in the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking: ‘am I gay?'” she shared. “And I was, and I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23andMe, and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.”

DeGeneres, accepting the lifetime achievement award, reflected on the power of television which drew her to the medium—and which kept her coming back to try again and again to make a life in it. “All I ever wanted to do was make people feel good and laugh,” she admitted, “and there’s no greater feeling than when someone tells me I’ve made their day better with my show or that I’ve helped them get through a sickness or a hard time with their lives. The power of television for me is not that people watch my show, but that they watch my show and then they’re inspired to go out and do the same thing in their own lives. They make people laugh or be kind or help someone that’s less fortunate than themselves and that is the power of television and I’m so, so grateful to be a part of it.”

#2: Patricia Arquette Condemned the Escalating Conflict in Iran and Urged Viewers to Vote

When she accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, actor Patricia Arquette also put the night in political context.

“I’m so grateful to be here and celebrate this, but I know tonight, January 5, 2020—we’re not going to look back on this night in the history books,” she announced. “We will see a country on the brink of war, the United States of America. A president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs, including cultural sites. Young people risking their lives, traveling across the world. People not knowing if bombs are going to drop on their kids’ heads. And the continent of Australia on fire.”

Mentioning her own children, and the world—physical and cultural—that they would be inheriting, she also called for decisive action and engagement in the lead-up to November’s elections. “For our kids, and their kids,” she explained, “we have to vote in 2020 and we have to beg and plead for everyone we know to vote in 2020.”

#1: Michelle Williams Told Her Abortion Story

In the most viral feminist moment of the night, actor Michelle Williams, while accepting the award for Best Actress in a Limited Series, also called for civic engagement—and for women to seize their political power. She also explained the ways in which the right to choose, and women’s reproductive freedom in contemporary times, allowed her to build her successful career in Hollywood.

When you put this in someone’s hands you’re acknowledging the choices they make as an actor. Moment by moment, scene by scene, day by day. But you’re also acknowledging the choices they make as a person. The education they pursued, the training they sought, the hours they put in. I’m grateful for the acknowledgement of the choices I’ve made and I’m also grateful to have lived in a moment in our society where choice exists, because as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that are not our choice.

I’ve tried my very best to live a life of my own making, and not just a series of events that happened to me. But one that I could stand back and look at and recognize my handwriting all over. Sometimes messy and scrawling, sometimes careful and precise. But one that I had carved with my own hand. And I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose—to choose when to have my children and with whom, when I felt supported and able to balance our lives as all mothers know that the scales must and will tip towards our children.

I know my choices might look different than yours, but thank God or whoever you pray to that we live in a country founded on the principles that I am free to live by my faith and you are free to live by yours. So: Women 18 to 118, when it is time to vote, please do so, in your self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them but don’t forget we are the largest voting body in this country. Let’s make it look more like us.


Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|