Scarlett Johansson commands the stage at the 2018 L.A. Women's March (Jae C. Hong /AP)
Addressing the 500,000 Women’s March attendees gathered in downtown Los Angeles Saturday and even more onlookers livestreaming it at home, Scarlett Johansson began her speech with a pointed barb aimed squarely at James Franco.
“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?” said Johansson, one of the 300 original signatories of the Time’s Up letter calling for an end to abuse and harassment of women everywhere.
She paused. “I want my pin back, by the way.”
Speculation on social media immediately pointed toward Franco, since the “Disaster Artist” director/star was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women on Twitter after wearing a Time’s Up pin to the Golden Globes. Franco has denied the allegations.
A rep for Johansson confirms that her comments were meant for and referring to Franco.
Johansson went on to deliver a rousing and surprisingly personal speech about learning to trust her own instincts. “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,” she said.
“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.”
Now, Johansson told the crowd, she refuses to compromise her own voice and instincts — a sentiment echoed in multitudinous ways by peers including Natalie Portman, Constance Wu and Viola Davis in a day filled with disparate speakers united by common goals of empowerment and visibility.
“No more pandering. No more feeling guilty about hurting someone’s feelings when something doesn’t feel right for me,” she said. “I have made a promise to myself to be responsible to my self, that in order to trust my instincts I must first respect them.”