Hillary Clinton, Ashley Judd, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and other media powerhouses had a strong message for men and women alike. As the marquee honoree at the annual Women’s Media Awards, former Secretary of State Clinton, put it best: “I don’t intend to be silenced.”
The Women’s Media Center, which aims to support women in the newsroom, honored Clinton, Fonda, and Judd, on Thursday at Capitale in New York City, for their contributions toward women’s rights.
Fonda and Judd called for women to seize the moment and focus on making lasting change. Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, was fresh off her first TV interview since speaking out about the producer to the New York Times. Her accusations in many ways set off a tsunami of women coming forward with their own horror stories of abuse at the hands of Weinstein, director James Toback, and other prominent figures.
“I was sitting around last Sunday with Gloria [Steinem] on FaceTime, and she was reminding me of the typical strategy sexual predators stick on us. They deny us, attack us, and reverse the order of victim and defender,” Judd said. “We’ve been able to talk about shame … and, especially in groups of strong females, we’re able to take that shame and put it back where it belongs, on the sexual predator.”
Center co-founder Fonda said she hopes the conversations in Hollywood will affect women in other industries. She pointed to Silicon Valley’s tech sector and the restaurant world as two industries where more and more women were feeling emboldened to speak up.
“It shows how vast the problem is. It’s not just an occasional issue with some guy. It’s an epidemic of an issue,” she told Variety. “I want more women to not be afraid to step forward and say what was done to them, and enforce laws and policies that will stop this from happening, and put offenders in jail, because it is a crime.”
“I ran into people, both women and men, who thought sexism, the struggle for equality was a thing of the past and ancient history,” Clinton said of her presidential campaign. “What a difference a year makes. The past 12 months have proven that the struggle is just as urgent and vital as ever.”
Clinton has been in the hot seat this week after the Washington Post reported that as a presidential candidate, she used campaign funds to pay for research into then-candidate Donald Trump’s connections with Russian donors. Despite the headlines, the former First Lady offered yet another sweeping condemnation of the White House, this time zeroing in on what she called an attack on women’s reproductive rights.
“There’s an all-out assault on truth,” she said. “There is no such thing as an alternative fact. When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like for example the size of the crowd at an inauguration, it’s more than frustrating, it’s subversive to democracy.”
She highlighted record low abortion rates, declines in teen pregnancy, and more as reasons to uphold women’s health-care and pointed to conversations happening across industries as reasons to continue to fight. The former presidential candidate accepted what the Center called its first and only Wonder Woman award.
Additionally, the night also honored reporters April Evans, Maria Hinojosa, and Maria Elena Salinas. Gail Tifford, a Unilever marketing executive, was also recognized.