Actor Scarlett Johansson launched a scathing attack on actor James Franco at the Los Angeles Women’s March on Saturday. She called him out for supporting the Time’s Up initiative publicly but “privately preying on people who have no power.”
“How could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?,” she said in a speech to the crowd of 500,000 gathered in downtown LA to protest US President Donald Trump and to support women’s rights. “I want my pin back, by the way,” she added after a pause.
James Franco and several other actors wore a Time’s Up pin to the Golden Globe Awards on January 7. He won the awards for Best Actor in Comedy for his film The Disaster Artist. Shortly after, as many as five women (aspiring actors and one he had a ‘consensual relationship’ with) accused the actor of sexual misconduct. However, Franco denied all allegations.
While Johansson didn’t specifically name Franco, her representative confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that she was indeed talking about him. She is also one of the original 300 members to sign on to Time’s Up, an initiative to provide aid to victims of sexual crimes.
Johansson also talked about her own experiences in her speech. “Suddenly I was 19 again and I began to remember all the men who had taken advantage of the fact that I was a young woman who didn’t yet have the tools to say no, or understand the value of my own self-worth. I had many relationships both personal and professional where the power dynamic was so off that I had to create a narrative that I was the cool girl who could hang in and hang out, and that sometimes meant compromising what felt right for me,” she said.
Of her own behaviour, she said she had previously felt the need to be polite to the powerful in order to get along. “It allowed me to have the approval that women are conditioned to need,” she said. But no longer.
Stressing that her new motto is about “no more pandering,” she said she would no longer feel guilt or shame over rebuffing men who behave inappropriately towards her.
“If a person isn’t saying ‘yes’ but they aren’t saying ‘no’, how can anyone feel justified to make that decision for them?” she said.
Along with Johansson, Natalie Portman, Constance Wu, Olivia Wilde, Ted Danson and many others also spoke at the event.
Viola Davis made a powerful speech in which she said, “I am always introduced as an award-winning actor, but my testimony is one of poverty. My testimony is one of being sexually assaulted, and very much seeing a childhood that was robbed from me. And I know that the trauma of those events is still with me today. That’s what drives me to the voting booth.”
Since the Golden Globes, along with James Franco, actor Aziz Ansari has also been accused of sexual assault. He too wore a Time’s Up pin to the ceremony.