LIMERICK women have responded positively to Oprah Winfrey’s powerful speech as she accepted the Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at this week’s Golden Globe awards.
Hailed as a rousing call to arms against sexual abuse and racial discrimination, the US television host told the story of her humble beginnings, covered the importance of press freedom, justice for sexual assault victims, gender and race equality, and addressed the #MeToo campaign.
#MeToo spread virally as a two-word hashtag used on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. It brought women together to support each other in breaking their silence about sexual harassment and assault.
Limerick Senator Maria Byrne said that Oprah Winfrey’s speech was inspiring for women all around the world, particularly those who are victims of sexual harassment.
“Her speech emphasised to us what the Times Up and #MeToo campaigns are about. I am glad she used the occasion to bring to our attention the story of Recy Taylor.”
President of Network Ireland Limerick, businesswoman Valerie Murphy said, that the part of the speech that referred to ‘a new day is on the horizon’ was particularly moving because “we can actually do something about it. We are doing something about it.
“‘It will be because of a lot of magnificent women, 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”, I am so moved by this and I like how she mentioned that we have ‘phenomenal men’ as well. It is so very important that not all men should be painted with the same brush.
“This year, women celebrate 100 years of having a vote. Women helping each other coaching, mentoring and encouraging, plays a significant role in promoting women’s role in commerce and the wider community. This self-empowerment is an important part of a healthy, mature society and an essential role model for our young people. The #meToo campaign was very powerful.”
Documentary theatre maker, actress and lecturer in Drama at BathSpa University Dr Helena Enright said, “I think it is important to make people aware of the inequality that still exists between men and women and it is encouraging to see so many people speaking out. I hope it means that young women will grow up in a world where it is not acceptable for men to take advantage of the power and privilege that their gender affords them.
“Eleven years ago, I was invited into Adapt to document women’s stories and create a piece of theatre to raise awareness. It feels right that we are now in a climate where women are being encouraged to speak out.”
Dr Gwen Moore, Director of Teaching and Learning at Mary Immaculate College. described the speech as “inspirational and timely”.
“What stood out for me as a woman, parent, and academic was how her words captured women’s ongoing struggle for equality in the workplace, in the home, and in public. In Ireland, male dominance persists and has endured for too long. Statistics released last October reveal that on average, women earn 14 per cent less than their male counterparts and that women in the 25-34 year age cohort have more third level qualifications than men.
“For me, her speech underscored not only the persistence of male dominance in society, but also that the time for an awakening, a revolution, is now upon us all!”, Dr Moore concluded.
Limerick author Roisin Meany said, “Oprah Winfrey, uncrowned queen of America, and by any standards a hell of a woman. I loved her speech, over nine minutes of passion and integrity and balance. While lauding strong women and declaring the end of female abuse at the hands of powerful men, she didn’t forget to acknowledge the other men, the ones who believe in equality and fairness for women.
“I’m not surprised that she’s being mooted by some as the next Democratic presidential candidate. The #meToo campaign was sorely needed. I’m a #meToo woman, and I know lots of others. Let’s hope Oprah was right. Let’s hope we’re seeing an end to abusive behaviour towards women.”
Teacher Roisin Breen said, “It is wonderful to see women supporting each other with the #meToo campaign. I do think it is important that those who suffer harassment or assault from people in powerful positions should have support and access to justice. As many stories are being carried through social media, there is always the danger of people being falsely accused and tried through the media rather than the justice system.”
More news on social issues here